December 5, 2016

Season of Kindness

Filed under: Aurora,Calendar,Everyday Life,Family,Wildlife — Susan Stevenson @ 3:41 pm

“No one is born hating another person…
People must learn to hate,
and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love,
for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

~ Nelson Mandela ~

I began writing this entry in mid-November. I would write, and then backspace and erase. I’d write again, and erase.  I had so much on my mind, especially after the election. I was saddened by the divisiveness in our country.  There was so much hatred and negativity.  The media was bombarding us with 24-hour fear mongering, and incendiary speech. No matter what channel you turned on,  election spin filled the screen. There was so much negativity on the air, and online, there was only one way to escape it.  And that was by turning off the TV, the internet, and social media.

I admit that I wasn’t as disciplined as some. I didn’t shut everything down permanently. But I did stop spending so much time reading things that made me angry. Instead, I focused on my family, my friends, and my day to day life.  I refuse to let hate win. I continue to live my life as always – smiling at strangers in the store aisles, letting people into my lane when traffic is backed up, holding doors for others, reaching things on the top shelf for people with mobility limitations, etc. It’s what being a human being is all about. If the only thing I can control is my life, than I want to live the best life I can live, and be the best person I can be.  I know I’m not alone, thank goodness.

“The world is filled with nice people. If you can’t find one, be one.”  (I love this quote attributed to Nishan Panwar)


I can’t believe it’s December already! The year flew by as always. I put our tree up this past weekend. We have a tabletop tree, so our Christmas decorations only take up two good size boxes now. I have a Santa collection (Old World, rustic, fancy, etc) that I like to put out. Steve calls them gremlins – assembling gremlins – as they are all lined up under a table.

Our birthdays are this month. It’s nice to have the tree up before we celebrate turning another year older. The twinkle lights help with holiday ambiance and make the lack of outside light a little easier to cope with.  Happy December to all of you!


We finally had a little bit of snow back in late October. Not enough to insulate our ground (septic and wells can freeze without enough snow accumulation), but enough to take away the dead brown look of our surroundings. It’s much prettier now, but we need so much more. An additional 2″ fell a few weeks ago, but still not enough. Now that the temperature has been below zero nearly every morning for the last week, there is additional concern.

While I was in WI with my new granddaughter, Steve told me that we had baby squirrels. We had a family of squirrels in our yard last summer too. Last year, the babies were presented to us when they were quite small. In fact, they were so small they were able to hide out in a birdhouse by fitting through the tiny 1.5″ opening.  Mama squirrel often accompanied them to the feeder pole where they would play with each other and scurry up and down the pole.

But this year, only the babies showed up at the pole. Mama squirrel wasn’t with them. They have both been frequent visitors, and we have welcomed them with treats of apples and peanut butter and other scraps. They are immensely entertaining, and such a happy diversion on a cold winter day. Unfortunately, they have been scarce since the temperature dipped below zero. (It is -20F this morning) I hope they are hunkered down in their warm midden, surrounded by food scraps they have *squirreled away*.

Added 12/4: Today it is -34F. Needless to say, the house is closed up tight against the cold. It’s much too dark in here for my liking, but staying warm takes precedence over staying sane on days like today. We also had another four inches of snow fall, which is perfect for adding that winter wonderland touch to the holiday season.

First snow - October 20th Baby Squirrel Baby Squirrel
Baby Squirrel Baby Squirrel Squirrel Acrobatics

These goofy baby squirrels climb INTO this feeder and eat the sunflower seeds while sheltered from the elements. They crack me up!
Baby squirrel in the bird feeder


July 25, 2016

Welcoming the Child of my Child!

Filed under: Family — Susan Stevenson @ 10:13 pm

Today, I received a text at 10:35am Alaska time.

We are at the hospital. Becky is dilated 8cm. Juliet is coming soon! (She was not due until August 14th)

At 11:11am (AK time), I received the text that she was here! (She was actually born 2:08pm Central Time, or 11:08am AK Time)

While I am a little disappointed that I didn’t get to see her born, I can’t begin to tell you how much joy is overflowing my heart. I can’t wait to meet her on Sunday!

Here are the very first photos of my precious granddaughter, daughter of my son Brandon and my beautiful daughter-in-love, Becky.

Presenting Juliet Rose Young <3 :

Juliet Rose birth announcement

I saw this poem online, and I love it!

Child of my child, Heart of my heart.
Your smile bridges the years between us.
I am young again, discovering the world through your eyes.
You have the time to listen. And I have the time to spend.
Delighted to gaze at familiar, loved features, made new in you again.
Through you, I’ll see the future.
Through me, you’ll know the past.
In the present, we’ll love each other.
As long as these moments last.

May 24, 2016

April Travels – Part Two – Washington DC

Filed under: Family,Interesting Things,Outside AK — Susan Stevenson @ 12:09 pm

In my last trip post, I wrote about the time that Steve and I spent in Philadelphia with my siblings and their families.  We visited from April 1st until the morning of April 12th. On that Tuesday morning, my SIL Diane took Steve and I to the Cornwell Heights Station near their home, where we took the SEPTA train to 30th Street Station in downtown Philly, and boarded Amtrak for Washington DC. We were looking forward to spending time in our nation’s capital with Mike, Patti, Steve & Dee.

I found a wonderful condo rental (using the VRBO website) in Arlington, VA –  which is a short metro commute from the National Mall and in a much less congested area. The condo was in walking distance to restaurants, taverns, and small convenience stores. Watching the sun set from the balcony was gorgeous every night. With 3BR/2BA, living room/dining area, full kitchen, fireplace, laundry facilities, and all the comforts of home, the cost to rent this unit was much less than booking three hotel rooms in DC.

Unfortunately, my brother Marc and his wife Denise couldn’t accompany the rest of us to Washington. The other four couldn’t join us until the next evening due to work schedules, so they all drove down in Mike’s SUV.


View from CondoView from CondoGetting from Washington DC’s Union Station to Arlington wasn’t as difficult as we worried, especially once we figured out the metro card machine. We were only carrying backpacks and small rolling suitcases, as my brothers were bringing our large bags with them, thank goodness. Especially as we arrived in Union Station in the middle of rush hour and faced very crowded (standing room only) trains.

After checking into the condo, we took a walk down the street looking for a quick bite to eat. When we came upon an iHop, the “breakfast for dinner” craving came upon me, so there we stopped.  We arrived back at our unit just before sunset. It was beautiful.


(Wednesday) After enjoying a breakfast burrito from the first floor cafe, Steve and I walked a couple of blocks to the train station, and hopped on the metro to the Smithsonian Castle, which is about the halfway point of the National Mall and Memorials area. Our visit to Washington was too late for the cherry blossoms, even though the Cherry Blossom Festival took place on our final day, but the tulips were absolutely stunning.  We picked up a map of all the Smithsonian museums so we could plan our days. We love that the museums are free!

We visited the  National Museum of the American Indian, which I found quite fascinating. I didn’t take many photos in there as it was quite dark, and it’s difficult to photograph through glass with lights reflecting on the display cases. There was also quite a bit of information to read along with the exhibits. We spent more than an hour there. My favorite part of the museum was the “Our Universes” gallery (level 4) which focuses on Native American beliefs and creation stories.

The Capitol is undergoing renovations, so there was scaffolding surrounding the lower part of the dome. We didn’t try to tour the Capitol, but we did walk as far as the reflecting pool in front of it before crossing the mall and starting down the other side toward the Washington Monument. It was a beautiful spring day with temps in the low 60s. The sun felt deliciously warm without being too hot. Steve and I occasionally stopped  to rest our legs in a shady spot under a tree or next to a fountain or garden. It was nice not to feel rushed or to have a strict itinerary. I was thankful for comfortable shoes though! We walked more than 5 miles that day – and that’s not including the miles we walked inside the buildings and at the monuments.

From the greenbelt at the National Mall, we walked all the way to the WW II Veterans Memorial, and then onward to the Korean War Veterans Memorial. We stopped at the Lincoln Memorial, and climbed the many steps to see Lincoln perched in his marble chair. Our last stop was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I’ve visited the memorial a handful of times in my life and every single time I do, I cry. Seeing so many names on the wall, and all the messages and cards and flowers that are placed there regularly really touches me.
James Seals WW II Veteran, 100 yrs old, Survived Pearl HarborWhile we were at the World War II Memorial, we noticed that there were quite a few WW II veterans in attendance. With pride they wore their dress uniforms, meticulously decorated with the medals and ribbons earned for their military service. As we walked past them, we thanked them for their service.

We came upon a news crew interviewing 100 year old WW II veteran Colonel James Seals, who came to Washington DC on an Honor Flight. Colonel Seals is one of the last living survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, when more than 2,400 Americans were killed. At the time, Col. Seals was a Marine Corps private and had just arrived in HI a week earlier. He was on his way to breakfast when the attack happened. If he’d have been a few minutes earlier, he would have been killed too. Colonel Seals lives with his daughter in TN.