Crossing Paths with Mary, Queen of Scots in Scotland – Photo Essay

A view from the top of Linlithgow Palace

We left Dalhousie in the rain and drove to Melville Castle. Finished in 1791, it’s one of the “newer” castles in the area. We inquired in hopes of finding some bit of history about my relative, Mary Melville, but discovered some about another Mary, Queen of Scotts, and her lover, Rizzio. Continue reading

Scotland – So far, So Very Good – Photo Essay

So far, our vacation has been spectacular. We started in Glasgow and drove to Edinburgh. I only drove the wrong way once, but immediately rode over the median, much to the amusement of Scottish onlookers. Oopsy!

Since we are already up in Inverness and Nessie is waiting for us to take a peek, I will take you on a photo journey of only a few of the places we have visited in the last few days.

Dalhousie Castle

We stayed in Dalhousie Castle for two nights.  With spectacular history and equally fine appointments, I was ready to move in.

Ready to move into Dalhousie Castle

We took a tour of the Rosslyn Church of Da Vinci Code fame. Legend has it, when the Roman Catholic Church tried to disband the Knights Templar, they hid their treasure somewhere in the church. The tour guide told us of a paver which holds much of the building’s energy. The man is stepping on it in the photo. Not expecting much, I stepped on the stone. A chill traveled up my legs as I broke out in a sweat much to the excitement of the elderly docent. Continue reading

When Destiny Packs Your Bags

ducks in a row

Doesn’t it always seem when you get your proverbial ducklings to trot single file, Destiny senses your achievement and watches like a lurking bully? Just as you hit your stride it jumps from the bushes and scatters them. Yup. Big D loves to mess with us. We can’t predict what life has in store for us, EVER!

“You think you’re in control of things? Ha!” says Big D, “You crack me up, Susie Lindau.” Destiny always has other plans in order to teach us life lessons.

This was the year I wanted to hunker down to finish projects, enter contests and get into super shape. Most important to me was to start a regular routine to balance my life and accomplish more in less time. Destiny buckled over it laughed so hard.

When my brother, Joe, died in March, shock pulled more than five weeks from my stellar equation to reach 2017’s goals. During that time I shelved most of my writing, but made some positive changes. I write in a gratitude journal every night and refocused my goals after finally learning about the fragility of life. You’d think breast cancer would have taught me that.

Destiny crosses its arms and shakes its head.

But Destiny also taught me to take opportunities presented NOW. I won’t wait for a better time in the future. You never know what’s ahead. Since adventure’s my thing, I decided I wanted to travel a lot more, but I wasn’t sure how I would balance that with hunkering down. I figured once things settled down after the funeral, I could get a ton done and plan an adventure sometime next fall. Ha! In hindsight, Destiny and I both share a laugh over that naive thought.

My husband and I returned home between Joe’s death and the funeral and discovered water pouring through the ceiling of our house from my demon washing machine. I took it as a cosmic joke and cliché moment about how life goes on and most of the setbacks are fixable. I figured we would patch up the ceiling and move on.

“Gotcha, Destiny.” I clucked my tongue and winked.

Big D shook its head. It had other plans.

So we’ve been inundated with workers since March 14th. Driers, contractors, drywallers, painters and soon the wood floors will be redone. My routine has been blown to hell. Instead, I carve out a few hours each day while workers come and go.

Then we heard from our insurance company. Are you sitting down? Because the water leaked out of the room into the hall, ALL of the wood floors on our first floor will be refinished along with my son’s room. The furniture has to be moved out. I threw up my hands and shook my fist at the Destiny. “Quit screwing with us, Destiny!”

My stomach has been knotted while waiting to get back to a normal life.

Then I discovered we need to move out of the house for almost THREE WEEKS! Another setback. We planned to drive to Breckenridge and stay at our second home. That’s cool, I guess.

One night, we picked up where we left off with Outlander. I had been so inspired when we started watching the historical fantasy about a woman who travels back in time to the 1740’s. My 100% Irish dad shocked us a few years ago when he said he had a Scottish grandmother. I did some research and she immigrated to America from the Melville Castle area. I wondered if my love for fish tropical in tanks and of the edible variety had anything to do with a connection to Herman?

“Wait a minute,” I said to my husband, Danny, after turning off a gruesome episode where a duke becomes headless, “See if there’s anything available in Scotland!” We bought a dinky timeshare unit in a lodge at the bottom of Peak 7 in Breck to use the amenities and park our car. We always forget to trade it and are about to lose two weeks.

After Danny researched availability, he came out of his office, smiling. “There’s a place in Dailly, Scotland.”

“What?” my eyebrows rose to my hairline and I took a look at his computer. We couldn’t find a trade in the US. It must be destiny.

A small smile curled in the corners of The Big D’s mouth as it peered over my shoulder.

That weekend, I caught up with a few blogs before skiing. Sacha Black announced the Bloggers Bash in London. One of our goals is to travel around and meet my virtual friends. “We could meet my friends!” I said.

I bought two tickets to the Bash and Danny booked our stay in Scotland for a week. We still needed to book the second week.

Why don’t we go to Paris the second week?”

“Really?”

“We can go anywhere, but that’s your favorite place, right?”

I would let it sink in over the weekend.

I attended the Pikes Peak Writers Conference and had several mind blown moments thanks to Donald Maass and several other knowledgeable writers. Between classes, I spoke to my son, Kelly. “If you want to visit me this quarter, you should come out next weekend,” he said. “I have to work hard the last few weeks of school.” He’s attending Icon Collective Music Production School in Burbank. He graduates in June.

I LOVE visiting Kelly in California, but I would come home late Sunday evening and would have to repack to fly out again. Thing is, my mom comes for a ten day visit over Mother’s Day. Would I ever have time to do revisions after those mind blown moments? I remembered my new thoughts about opportunity and booked flights for early Friday morning. With the pressure of a trip, I wrote a brand new, much better first chapter and revised the second. Maybe cramming in writing between workers coming to the house was a good thing.

Monday morning I checked AirBnB’s in Paris surprised at how many lovely apartments near the heart of Paris only cost around $100 per night. I made a list of favorites. Then I noticed the walls in the Parisian apartment photos. I needed to pick a color for the bathroom that had been damaged. Most of the French rooms depicted neutrals in gray, taupe and tans. We have a very French house and I was sick of the green paint in the bathroom.

I drove to the paint store and picked out a few colors, then asked the decorator, “Is gray still a popular color?”

“It is,” she said, brown curls bouncing as she walked toward me from her desk.

“I was thinking about warm gray,” I said. “Something with a little brown in it.”

She pulled a few colors from a new line of paint. They all looked pretty much alike. When I returned home with a fist full of paint chips, I selected a taupey color called “Quicksand” and called the painter.

Destiny chuckled in the background.

I didn’t pay attention to its giggle.

Another cosmic joke came the next day. The house filled with painters. They spent the day painting the guest bedroom and the adjacent back sink area and bathroom.

After they left, I checked out the rooms. “Are you kidding me???” The walls were a light shade of green. It made the tumbled marble tile look pink. I screamed. “No!” Then I checked the code for the paint on the chip against the can. Exactly the same. How? How?

I figured this had to happen to other people and spoke the contractor. Nope. This NEVER happens.

At this rate, workers will be around for a while. I predict a lot of travel in my future. Quit scattering my ducks, Destiny!

Related posts:

A Cosmic Joke After Trauma

I Celebrated a Birthday, but Failed to Save a Life

When Death Sits on My Face

My Demon Washing Machine is Haunted

31 Days…

31 days...

31 days. Slanted October light slices through the trees, casting shadows that creep across the withered landscape. Trees groan when wind claws brittle leaves from their branches. In shades of gold and blood-red scarlet to tawny brown they pirouette and spiral high in the sky, then sigh in resignation and finally rest upon the ground to rot. The same cool breeze touches my skin with icy fingertips sending ripples of shivers along my backbone. I wrap my arms around myself for warmth.

31 days. Each one of them a transition. Summer’s finale explodes in a burst of color. It’s the landscape’s last farewell to a fallow season of frenzied production. While plants prepare for months of rest, winter gathers its strength. It flexes with every stolen minute of daylight. You can feel its looming presence in the gloam of night while it waits, its cold breath on your neck.

31 days. The lengthening darkness brings back memories of spooky tales and giggles shared in youth. Corn mazes open along the highway. Crowds gather for haunted historic tours in cities and towns alike. Haunted houses advertise creepy adventures created to thrill and incite shrieks. Many long to recapture the feeling of fright night. We may buy a pumpkin to carve on Halloween night.

31 days. October 1st is the beginning of the end of the year. Only three months remain. Then the holidays will arrive with high expectations. They require planning and preparation, inducing stress. But October’s expectations are low. It’s a simple month. A month of enjoying walks while leaves crunch underneath our shoes with the acrid smell decomposition in the air. A month of enjoying the harvest, apple cider and pumpkin-spiced everything. A month of watching birds flock up and take flight in undulating shapes while geese fly in arrows pointing south. It’s a month of golden lighting and brilliant sunsets. Sometimes snow flies in an early winter surprise.

31 days. It’s time for scary movies, psychological thrillers, Hitchcock, Poe and King. The tingles race across our arms as our heart’s rapid pace quickens. We may have seen these films many times, but the best diabolical villains will still steal our breath once more. We may watch in terror or for amusement, but most of us will watch at least one of them. As All Hallow’s Eve approaches, we get into the haunting mood.

31 days. I’ll prepare for Halloween night by decorating. I’ll pull out my dead guys to freak out the mailman and hang spider webs in the hall. Lights will be hung in haphazard lines outside the house and pumpkins will sit on the doorstep. Once again my kitchen will be transformed. The strobe light and fog machine will be at the ready. It won’t be long until little goblins come to call.

31 days. On the 31st, I’ll don my Morticia Addams outfit, paint my lips and eyes. I’ll tee up scary music and turn up the speakers. Bags of candy will sit in the three-legged kettle near the door. I’ll peek out the window and wait for the doorbell to ring.

31 days. The month will end. We’ll lose an hour and our days will plunge into darkness. Winter will come. From a blaze of color to dazzling white, we’ll all adjust to another season as the year comes to a close.

But for now, I’ll enjoy October’s 31 days. I hope you will too.

What do you enjoy about October?

 

When People Think You’re Crazy

You’ve seen them, disheveled and disoriented people who mutter or sometimes curse at no one in particular. They are upset by others, both invisible and only seen in their mind. Their conversation may have taken place years ago only to be acted out again and again.

I talk to myself all the time. I blame my kids. When they were babies, I talked to them all the time even though they probably didn’t understand much of what I said. I had read an article claiming this would improve their intelligence. I remember taking them to the store and asking them what kind of baby food they would like to eat or which tampons I should buy. I got all kinds of amused looks from strangers who thought I was out of my mind. Although I looked like a fool, my kids grew up to be very intelligent adults. People think you're crazy

When I became a writer, I discovered reading what I had written aloud helped me find errors and create realistic conversation. It works! I don’t think I had completely gotten out of the habit of talking to myself, so writing compounded the issue.

I would catch myself muttering, “Where’s my car?” in the parking lot, or “Man, this is way too much laundry,” or “Oh, my God. This line is going to take forever,” while waiting at Costco.

In the movie, Blue Jasmine, Cate Blanchett nails the role of an unstable woman who lives out her socialite lifestyle in her imagination. She takes talking to yourself to a whole new level. I realize there is a big difference between saying your thoughts out loud and being in an altered state of mind. I loved that movie, but it made me more conscious of my occasional habit.

Last winter, I drove to King Soopers grocery store late in the day. I ran into my friend, Jack, who works in the produce department. We chatted until I sensed that I had taken up enough of his time, yammering on about the weather and the price of beans.

I said goodbye and pushed my cart forward. Someone to my right muttered something unintelligible. My cart hadn’t bumped into to anyone, but I said, “Sorry,” just in case I had impeded their progress between the bins of potatoes and the mushroom display. Continue reading

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”
-Mark Twain

While writing my book, I made the plot as plausible as possible, even though it delves into the  paranormal. Readers will buy a few coincidences, but not a book full of them. What happened to me could never be included in a novel. It’s just too crazy. I hesitated to blog about it.

My first annual cancer tests approached. Both my OB-Gyn and my oncologist were concerned about my thyroid and ordered a lab test. Life has its ups and downs. I prayed for a sign that everything would be okay.

I have a few crosses and made an appointment to have them blessed. My favorite had been purchased with other silver jewelry at an auction long ago. The cross is very reflective and has an aquamarine set in the center. After it was blessed, I fastened it to my bracelet. Cool! I’d never worn a cross.

Danny and I prepared for a weekend trip. Packing proved a breeze since we would only be away for two nights. I asked him what time we should leave in the morning. He thought 7:00 AM would be early enough. He handed me the itinerary and I never looked at the time of departure, but noticed the pre-TSA endorsement. This time he got it and I didn’t. I’m such a shady character.

After waking at 5:30 AM and getting ready to leave for the airport, I looked at our departure time. He had misread it. Continue reading

The Boob Report – Back to Reality, Oops There Goes Gravity

I made it through the double mastectomy in May knowing I would soon be surrounded by beauty in some of my favorite places while eating delicious food.

Mystery photo #4

My husband Danny and I flew to Barcelona and met our daughter who studied abroad. It had been over five weeks since the surgery and I still had some lifting restrictions. Being without cancer for the first time in years, my energy level soared! We hit the ground running and didn’t stop until the cows came home at O’ dark thirty.

Oh, glorious food! I tried to watch my portions since everything was prepared with simple ingredients and lots of butter. Chocolate croissants melted in my mouth, every morning. Restaurants used seasonal fruits and vegetables. I entered food nirvana.

After driving through France, we took the train to England. What a trip.

The timing rocked. The European adventure took my mind off my health and upcoming breast reconstruction surgery on Wednesday, August 28th. Yep. I have one more step in the breast cancer journey. I am lucky. As the poster child for early detection, I don’t have to go through chemo or radiation. My treatment consists of taking a Tamoxifen pill every morning. How hard is that?

Back to reality. When I arrived home, I weighed myself, but wasn’t too surprised. I didn’t gain any weight. We had walked for hours every day while on vacation and burned off the calories from the rich food.

Two days later, I had an appointment with my reconstructive surgeon. We discussed the swapping of the hard expanders behind my pectoral muscles to the silicone implants. This is not the silicone of the 1990’s. It is the same material used in hip and knee replacements.

I was looking forward to this routine procedure, so I can sleep on my side again without pain. It seems nothing in my life is routine.

He examined my breasts and scowled.

NOTE TO SELF: It is never good when a surgeon scowls while examining your body. Continue reading