Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Country Side





                                                   The roses of time
                                                    bloom around me today
                                                    the honeysuckle is prime
                                                    in its sweet, fragrant way

                                                    The wild rhododendron
                                                     is putting on a show
                                                     soon the ivy will come
                                                     the rhododendron will go

                                                     He loves me, he loves me not
                                                     the daisies are here
                                                     black-eyed Susie's hit the spot
                                                     and make my heart cheer

                                                     Blackberries are on track
                                                     plenty of blooms in sight
                                                     the whipporwills are back
                                                     I hear them every night

                                                     The turtle doves are soothing
                                                      to my heart there's no end
                                                      the red cardinals are singing
                                                      and being selfish again

                                                      I've been watching the creek
                                                      for wild ducks to swim
                                                      today I took a peek
                                                      I saw a woodpecker on a limb

                                                      My garden is green
                                                      a summer's bounty will be
                                                      tall sunflowers in between
                                                      the birds are waiting patiently

                                                      Each day I look around
                                                      there's so much to see
                                                      Soon the lightning bugs will abound
                                                      they're a treasure to me

                                                      Oh the beautiful country side
                                                       so much living I've done
                                                       to live elsewhere I've tried
                                                       there's no place like home

                                                          © Susie Swanson, 2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Planting Forty Acres






Every year when spring time rolls around, my thoughts take me back to daddy and how he loved planting his gardens. When I say gardens I mean forty acres. That’s what mama used to call it. He’d start planning his planting and looking at the signs early as February. If it’d been a mild winter he’d have the taters, onion beds, cabbage, lettuce, etc. in the ground by the end of February. If it was a harsh winter and late spring he’d be chomping at the bits to get it all in the ground, especially the taters. Mama would tell him, “ye need not fret, them taters won’t come up none till the ground warms and ye know it.” And the signs had to be dark nights before he put the taters in the ground or he’d say, “they’ll be all vines and no taters.” That meant no full moon or new moon. So he’d wait it out till he got the chance at it. And he’d stay right with those gardens, nary a weed was allowed to grow.

 My oldest brother helped him plow out the patches and it’d take em forever to get em plowed. Daddy had an old mule at one time but when he graduated to a tilter he didn’t know how to use it. My brother caught on and he mainly worked the tilter after that, especially after daddy started showing his age. But that didn’t stop him none. He kept on wanting those patches planted every year and the more the better. He’d plant enough to keep an army going, as mama used to say.

We all helped with the planting and harvesting. I remember many a day planting that corn and beans and anything else for that matter. I always dreaded it when it came time to gather the corn out of the field. Man, I hated getting stung by those pack saddles, it hurt so bad.

He always said there were good years and bad years for everything. For example, if the cabbage didn’t do any good he’d say it wasn’t a good year for it. That meant the weather wasn’t just right or etc. He always watched the signs and made sure it was a good time to plant anything. He was like mama when it came to her canning and pickling, especially pickling or making kraut.

When the cabbage came in and the signs were good for making kraut, that was an all day job. We chopped that cabbage with a cream can that daddy would take the top off and sharpen it really good with a file or sharpening stone. We’d pack the cabbage in jars after we chopped it fine enough and for every quart we’d add a teaspoon of pickling salt and a teaspoon of sugar. Then we’d add warm water straight from the kitchen faucet to it as we stuck a butter knife down in the middle and around the edges of the kraut till the water filled to the top of the rim. Mama always said the sugar was for keeping it white and she always wanted her kraut to stay white. When the cans were ready we’d help daddy carry them to the smokehouse cause they had to be put in a cool place to work off.

He always planted patches of early corn and beans and late corn and beans. They all kinda straggled in and we’d break and string beans in the summer till late into the night. Mama didn’t have anything but a hot water canner and having to can on a wood cook stove she’d save the hot water bath till morning.

A lot of the beans were pickled with corn and put in churn jars to work off when the signs were just right. We’d mix them all together and put em in the churn and add a cup of pickling salt for every five gallon of water. Those beans had to work off for nine days and we’d take em out and put em in a big pan on the stove and get em hot through and through and put em in the jars. Daddy and mama loved that stuff but I never did like em myself.

Daddy’s favorite corn was hickory cane and he’d plant a whole field of it so we could cut it off the cob and cream it. Daddy loved that corn with a big slice of tomato. We liked it too, but he wanted it every meal. The hickory cane corn was the best pickled with the beans also.

Since mama didn’t have a fancy corn cutter she and I used a knife. I’ve laughed so hard at her when I’d look at her glasses and how speckled they were. Of course, we were both covered in corn and the whole kitchen as well. It even got on the ceilings.

When the summer bounty started coming in it was overwhelming to say the least. There were so many things that needed canning or pickling and a lot came in when the blackberries, strawberries, etc. got ripe. I helped mama many a day stand over that wood cook stove filling cans fast as we could. The heat was suffocating but as mama used to say, “it’ll beat a snowball any day.” Of course this would be after we’d hit the blackberry patch at daybreak. There’d sit the buckets of blackberries to put up as well. She’d can a lot of them to make cobblers but she liked to have a few cans on hand just to drink when someone got the sick stomach. They sure do settle the stomach and I know firsthand.

After we got a deep freezer the rest of the berries would be put in the freezer till time for jelly and jam making. Mama liked to wait and make it in late summer or fall. She always said it would thicken better when the humidity wasn’t so high. She never had any trouble with it thickening anytime best I remember.

All that good bounty sure did taste good come cold weather and like mama said it sure did beat a snowball. I look around today and see so many patches empty compared to back then and it makes me sad. A lot of folks still plant gardens and we try to put a little one out but as for forty acres it’s hard to find them anymore.


I bet daddy and all of his old buddies are planting forty acres in heaven again this spring and enjoying every minute of it.

                                            © Susie Swanson, 2017

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Quilting






The art of quilt making goes back many, long years and handed down from one generation to another. I’m sure it came about as a necessity for many, as times were very hard. People had big families and had to stay warm any way they could and they believed in not wasting a tiny morsel of fabric. Back then homes were hard to keep heated in the winter and the more cover on the beds the better. My daddy and mama said some houses had cracks in them big enough to throw a cat through. My daddy said when he spent the night at an uncle’s house he woke up with a dusting of snow on top of the bed covers.  He said that’s the reason why his aunt put so many quilts and blankets on the bed and he felt like he was sleeping under a block of cement.

Coming from a quilting family myself, I watched my grandma and mama make many quilts and was very intrigued by it at an early age. I watched them sew every, little stitch with so much enjoyment and love. I first started out watching my big ma (on my mama’s side) and having a family of ten young’uns there were never enough quilts according to her. In all honesty, there were many beds and back then they didn’t have anything other than a wood heater, wood cook stove, or fireplace to keep heat in the house.

I’d make excuses to go see big ma and pa just to watch her quilt. I’ll never forget the day I got an opportunity to help her. She was a quiet person, especially while she was quilting but when she spoke up and said, “do you want to sew some.” I almost jumped up and down. She threaded that little needle and handed it to me and told me to start sewing and I looked at it for a second and said, “but I can’t make as pretty a stitches as you can.” She said, it doesn’t matter just do your best, we all got to start sometime.” I admit some of those stitches were worse than bad but she never said a word, just kept on sewing. When I look back on it now I realize that’s how she got her start to quilting. I could never count how many quilts she made that I know about, must have been hundreds probably.


Then there was mama and her quilting. Before cold weather started coming in she’d get daddy to help her put up those quilting frames in the largest bedroom.  When she lowered those frames and started on one I was right there every stitch of the way. The only difference was that mama would tell me when my stitches became to long or when I was sewing a crooked line. I tried to listen to every bit of advice cause mama was considered to be like big ma in my book. They both were master quilters. Mama learned how to quilt at a very early age by helping her mama.


Mama made many quilts on those old timey quilting frames till she got arthritis in her fingers. I’ll never forget the first fall when mama didn’t put up any frames. I asked her if she planned on doing any quilting and she said, “oh yeah, but from now on they’ll be sewed on the sewing machine.” She only had a pedal sewing machine but she let the hammer down on that thing and made several quilts. Then one day she decided she needed an electric sewing machine and went out and bought her one.  I’d help her by putting the quilts together and basting them and when we got one ready I helped to guide it through the sewing machine.


Over the years mama and I made many quilts together and loved every minute of it. After we lost mama I started quilting on my own. I knew mine would never come close to mama or big ma’s but I let the hammer down on those quilts. Over the years I’ve tried to make quilts for all of my family and then some. I have several hanging on quilt racks and always keep one on my bed along with the pillow shams.


Then something happened a few years ago that caused my quilting to come to a halt. I was putting the finishing touches on one when I felt some kind of weird symptoms that can’t be explained. I kept on working till I finished that quilt and that was my last one I’ve attempted to make. I guess it can only be explained by saying my health put me on a journey that’s been a hard road to travel and my quilting was put on the back burner.
 But I still look at those quilts hanging on the racks or on the beds and a still, small voice tells me that maybe, just maybe someday the stitching will start again and the quilting fever will last to no end.


Quilting is the life’s blood of a quilter’s soul
Passed down through the generations of time
Knowledge is worth a mountain of gold
To a quilter that’s patiently waiting behind

Each piece is linked with joy and pride
Each stitch sewn by a determined hand
The patience for creation sits closely beside
As only a quilter can understand

The pattern may become bright and bold
It doesn’t matter the color or size
It’s there for the next generation to behold
Then becomes a cherished prize

To the heart of a quilter it’s a joyous pleasure
From the beginning until the cherished end
It’s an honor to make such a lasting treasure
And a quilter is willing to do it all again

But when a quilter’s job is finally done
And they lay their stitching down
The quilting fever has only begun
To a future quilter, what a glorious crown

© Susie Swanson, 2017


The quilt above is one of the last ones I’ve made and the Pattern is called, “Rail Fence.”

Friday, February 24, 2017

Dear Doctors





Dear Doctors,


For many years I’ve walked into your office and listened to you. I’ve heard many things come from your mouths that I had to go along with thinking it was the answers I needed to get well. Then when it came my time to tell you all how I felt, you just brushed me off like I was some crazy person and couldn’t possibly be feeling that way. How can you know? You don’t live in my body. All you can see is the outside and what’s going on inside my body you can never feel. You’ll never know the suffering I’ve had to endure and the many days and nights that I prayed to die, yes I was and still at times that desperate but if it hadn’t been for a far Greater Power than any of you I would not be here today.


I’ve tried telling you all for years that something was badly wrong and you just shook your head or brushed it off as being a part of aging. What about all the times I saw you when I was in my thirties and tried to tell you about the strange symptoms I was having? At the age of 39 I was either on the sofa or the bed for a whole year. I was even hospitalized three times in that one year and sent to many different specialists before one specialist uncovered my problem in some labs and it wasn’t even in his specialty to treat me. After three stays in the hospital one would think with so much blood drawn it would have been uncovered. The specialist told me I had Hypothyroidism and sent me back to some of you to be treated. What did you do? You made me even sicker by putting me on one dose of thyroid meds. after the other, not knowing what you were even doing till I was so sick I prayed to die.  You never run the much needed tests on my thyroid that would have told the whole story. After many gruesome months and needless suffering, one of you finally hit the right dose and I was on the road to recovery, or so I thought.

But it didn’t stop there, it was only the beginning. All of those days and nights that I was laid up I started having bladder problems and hurting so bad I couldn’t walk with one infection after another. After you all wasted my precious time deciding what to do, one of you finally decided to take a little of his time to put me in the OR and find the answer.  It was another Autoimmune Disease in my bladder and the lining was inflamed. You even put a name to it but I call it IC.


After many years of dealing with this bladder disease and walking in your office for four straight years having catheters put in my bladder for you to put medicine through, and it burning my bladder so bad that I sometimes cried after I walked out. After all of this and the treatments lasting maybe a week if I was lucky I finally found my own treatment that still keeps me going today. Yes, I had to find my own medicine and it turned out to be a simple supplement to which you turned your nose up at and told me you didn’t see how that would work.


A few more years passed with me walking into your office for regular visits and labs just to be told everything looked good when deep inside it was far from being good. Inside my body a raging storm was brewing. I finally got so sick I barley could go and I’ll never forget how you treated me as if I was crazy yet again and talked down to me like I was a child or some crazy person and one of you went far enough to call me a hypochondriac.

Finally, after you all got tired of seeing my face walk through the door you decided to dig a little deeper only to find out I had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and there was no hope for my thyroid gland. Finally an answer, but you all told me I would feel so much better once it was gone and like an idiot I listened to you. But here I am today still suffering more than ever before and nary a dose of thyroid meds, have I taken that’s stabilized me. I’m even more sick now than the day I had it removed.



The way of life I once knew is gone. I’ve had to change my whole lifestyle and diet, tried to heal my gut, take iron, other supplements, etc. to no avail.  I’ve went from being a very get up and go person, finding pleasure in the little things like cleaning my house, shopping, working in my flowers etc. to not being able to get up and do anything but watch others do it for me and take care of me.  And if that wasn’t a hard enough pill to swallow , it’s the feelings of this horrific disease beating my body into the ground more each passing day and to top all of this my Adrenal Glands have collapsed from trying to carry my body so long due to all of your negligence and uncaring. I’m now dealing with the craziest and scariest symptoms I’ve ever felt yet and there’s a new one to contend with each day. And all the thyroid medication in the world is not going to be able to help me now. You and I both know with Adrenal Fatigue, Thyroid medication can’t pull me up when the adrenals are pulling me down. And dealing with that awful fatigue that can never be explained. It’s like no other tiredness in the world and that awful feeling of aching all over and not being able to raise your arms or pick your feet up to walk due to weakness and trembling.


You’ll never know how many sleepless night I’ve went through or that dreaded feeling of going to bed each night knowing I’m going to wake up at the same time, in the wee hours of the morning because the Stress Hormone called Cortisol is to high.
 You’ll never have the feeling of being so wired you can’t bat an eye or what it’s like to lay in bed and cry because you need to sleep so bad and uncontrollable depression hits you right between the eyes in those wee, lonely hours of the morning.
 You’ll never know what it’s like to cry out for God to help you get just one good night’s sleep. Needless to say he and I have had many long talks in the middle of those long nights and days and if it hadn’t been for him helping me I wouldn’t even be here today.
He’s surely been there for those awful panic attacks and the anxiety that never ends. He’s listened to me so many days and nights when I tried to talk myself down and find that peace and calm that I yearned for so much.
 None of you will ever know what it’s like for me to drag myself out of bed with the feeling that I could sleep a week and so tired I can’t hold my eyes open long enough to eat my breakfast, all because my Cortisol has decided to drop to Low when it’s supposed to be the other way around with a normal person’s body.
And my eyes are so sore all the time and I have a headache that would kill a bull. 
Nor will you ever know what it’s like when the Cortisol spikes again during the day time and I’m so light headed I feel like I’m walking on clouds  and someone has to help me to the restroom for fear of falling.
And trying my best to stay away from stress because I have zero tolerance and those crazy adrenal rushes that race through my body at the least bit of stress.
And those uncontrollable shakes that won’t go away day or night inside my body.
And that awful itching  on my body that comes and goes and there’s nary a bump or a bit of redness to be found.
And having to time myself on how much TV I can watch at night or be on the computer and try to shut it off at least an hour or two before bedtime due to seeing blue lights in front of my eyes when I close them to sleep and pray hard I can.
Then I roll and tumble all night burning up and sweating on the coldest nights due to that other Hormone the adrenals put out called Aldosterone when it decides to drop to low.
 And a simple thing as taking a shower is a huge chore and for someone that’s always been independent, to need help is so degrading.
 But the hardest thing to accept is knowing I may lose my eyesight altogether and that fear that someday I may wake up blind.
And having to live with needing Dental Work done and knowing with Adrenal Fatigue there’s no way they’ll touch my mouth because they can’t give any numbing medicine or anesthesia.  



That’s what Adrenal Fatigue does to a body. But how can I forget, you don’t even acknowledge it just like you don’t acknowledge Hashimoto’s till it’s to late.  You all say things like it’s all in your head but what hurts me the most is when one of you so called know it alls, tell me I should see my Psychiatrist. None of you will never know the true meaning of how bad words can hurt when your body is so sick and it causes you to lose what little mind you have left. A Psychiatrist can’t fix the source, that’s your job.



I know the road is getting longer by the day but nary one of you will ever care because you can’t feel my feelings or go through a nightmare like this or you wouldn’t be so fast to brush people like me off and hurry to get out the door to see that next patient so you can get that dollar. I have always been just a number to you and a dollar sign. You do not live in my body, nor have you had to lay down and give up your life the way you once knew it and feel like you’re living in the twilight zone every day and night of your life. You’ll never know what it’s like to lay in the recliner or on the sofa all day with your muscles wasting away and can barely walk over the house. You’ll never know the feeling of looking out the windows and wanting to be outside and your body can’t carry you. And you’ll never understand how bad it makes your heart hurt to see the finest man and biggest blessing of my life, my husband have to do everything in the house, cook, wash dishes, run errands, do the yard and gardening work, take me to see all of you, no matter how long the wait or trip, and take care of me at the same time and never once complain. You’ve never seen him kneel down beside me and pray for me and cry with me or feel the hurt in his heart because he can’t do anything to take it all away. But I see it every day and my hearts aches for him and what he’s had to see and go through .



  I miss so many things that I used to take for granted. I see my sewing machine sitting in the corner and haven’t stitched a quilt in three years. I loved my writing and the joy it brought to my heart knowing I was preserving my heritage and roots by keeping it alive. I long to do so much with my life and live it to the fullest but that’s left up to the one that knows everything about me and you for that matter. And in case you don’t know his name, it’s God and he’s our Heavenly Father and the Great Healer, not you. You think you’re so high and mighty but remember one thing, he gave you the ability to care about your patients and have compassion but somewhere along the way you’ve dropped that by the wayside or you’ve never come to know him from the start.



So, when you see me in your office in my wheelchair I ask you to take a good look at what and who I’ve become. I’m someone that looks in the mirror every day and doesn’t recognize the person looking back. I’m someone that’s lost so much weight that my skin is sagging. I’m someone that has to eat every two to three hours or I’ll pass out due to developing Hypoglycemia because my adrenals can’t put out enough energy and my sugar drops and all the symptoms that come with it.  

All of this should have and could have been prevented if you’d took the time to really listen to me and let me tell you how I was feeling instead of shrugging me off. You could have easily found out if you’d done the necessary Labs that I ask you to do instead of telling me that you didn’t go by those Labs. When someone is so sick they barely can crawl and all else has failed, would it have wasted that much of your time to take it a step farther in finding the root cause or be willing to change their thyroid meds, for something that might have worked.



 It shouldn’t be so hard to remember the person that walked in your office so many times, even though she had to crawl and not recognize her today. She’s still here but only by the Mercy and Grace of God. I promise, it was nothing you did and she will keep on researching and trying to help herself just like she’s always done. Maybe, one of these days God will see fit for her to find that one special supplement or miracle pill that she so longs for that will heal her and put her back on her feet. And she can honestly say it’ll be, no thanks to all of you.
I ask God every day to take this anger away from me towards all of you for my own sake as well as others so I can live what’s left of my life regardless and find some peace. And that I can accept what comes my way and try to go on living till God calls me home. I want you to know it has taken every ounce of my strength and what little efforts I have and many weeks to even write this letter. The only thing left for me to say to all of you is…..
 I’m praying that every one of you with the MD at the end of your name will find some of that much needed caring, and understanding  and be willing to take the time to really listen so you can have compassion for the many others that’s like me or the ones following in my footsteps. I ask you all to remember one thing, we’re all human beings put on this earth for a reason . We all have our own battles to fight. Please do not let another person walk in your office or go down this same road without trying to help them. We only ask for help, nothing more, nothing less and we will not give up.




Each day we wake and choose to carry on another 24 hours in agony, we prove ourselves. We’re all Warriors. Who knew that we would be conceived into such existence where pain and death are inevitable. We didn’t ask for this. But….there’s a plan far Greater waiting for us and a Great Destiny for each of us. We’re Strong, We’re able. Let’s keep fighting Soldiers. We will not give up.

                                      © Susie Swanson, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hope's Brightest Ray






                            Alone beneath the wind’s white drifting
A lonely, yet not surprising sadness stirs his heart
For a time when life served him so much more
Oh how he longs to go back before it all fell apart

When loved ones were close beside and never far
And laughter sounds a stronger note than tears
He sits on the park bench and questions why
His aching heart longs for those lost yesteryears

 A more simple time moved much slower back then
And a home meant joy within his boyhood breast
To hear those old familiar voices calling him back
Would give him a new song filled with joy and rest

His eager youth could never find a way to hold it
Although his yearning heart tried so earnestly
The wind’s directions pulled at his heart strings
But life’s lessons unfolded bitter and so strongly

A young man in his prime set out to do his duty
To conquer the world and see a magnificent place
Fighting for freedom, his homeland and country
But war’s wounds can never be forgotten or erased

The cold‘s sting, the wind’s own flying breath
Stirs more so, the old hurts his mind has bore so long
And that long ago boy that fast became a man
Wonders how he’s suppose to live and carry on

There’s been to many days of anguish, nights of pain
Since the hands he held in his, long loosed their hold
Through the summer’s heat and winter’s wrath
After a while a lonely heart tends to lose all control

 If for one brief moment he could see a friendly smile
It would help his mind find a stillness of it’s own
Such a thing is worth it all and would last for quite a while
And has the power to lift one from a combat zone

If he could tell his stories of how he grew and lived
Working hard to feed his family, he’d welcome it in
And how he missed out on an education cause life was slim
He’d forget about his lost years and smile once again

He grew up knowing what he had to do and how
Oh the things he could tell, what joy it would bring
And the wisdom he learned down through the years
Common sense will take you far and means everything

Maybe if listening ears could spare a little time
And relive an old man’s life, what knowledge they’d gain
It would shed new light on a past that’s never gone
For the ways of the old, time well spent is never in vain

Till then he’ll sit and wait for the spring birds to sing
Perhaps the sun’s warmth might brighten his day
Bringing joy to his lonely heart and food for his soul…and
  Loneliness might be left smoldering in hope’s brightest ray

© Susie Swanson, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Mama's Chickens






My mama loved raising chickens better than anything besides growing her flowers and always managed to have some when we were growing up. I can’t remember a time when chickens weren’t running around scratching all day or hearing the ole hens cackling when they’d laid their eggs. And there’s nothing like being chased by an ole sittin hen when she gets the mindset to be ornery when she thinks her chicks might be harmed.
 When spring time came in mama kept an eye on those ole hens when they took off to build their nest. Mama knew where every nest was and if she didn’t she’d watch them till she knew just about the exact location.  Daddy tickled all of us to death. He’d stand on the porch and say, “lookie yonder at your mamie, she’ll follow them ole hens till one of these days she’ll get a snake around her neck.”


There were a lot of varmints to contend with like hawks, foxes, etc. but that didn’t detour mama from doing what she loved to do. Sometimes an ole hawk would dive down and grab a baby chick.
One ole hawk really was bold one day and dived down in the middle of the yard. Mama run down those steps faster than a cat could lick and grabbed the first rock she could get her hands on and threw it straight up at that hawk. The rock didn’t come close to him but it scared him enough to drop the little chick. The poor little thing died on impact if it wasn’t already dead.  It broke mama’s heart and she said, “I’ll kill that thing if it’s the last thing I do.” Daddy wanted to put his two cents in but knew better and turned around and walked back in the house. Those varmints were brave to show themselves around mama.

When an ole varmint grabbed a hen on her nest mama would take the eggs and put them under another ole hen. We never could keep up with how many ole hens and chickens mama really had but she knew each one of the hens and had most of them named and knew where each one built their nest.
When it came time for all the baby chicks to hatch out there’d be several ole hens and their baby chicks running around to feed and those hens were mean as a striped snake. We knew better to get their feathers riled. 
 Those ole roosters were awfully cocky as well.  Mama never could stand to hear an ole rooster crow in the middle of the day. She said it meant bad luck. She’d throw rocks at one to get him to stop. It was usually the young roosters that had just learned how to crow and thought they were something. Daddy told her that one day she was wasting her time and she said, “well it’s about time they learned when to crow and I’ll teach em.”

She’d put as many of the ole hens up in chicken pens as she could and the little ones would go in and out through the chicken wire till roost time. When the chicks got a little older she’d let them out of the pen to make room for more. Every now and then a fox would reach through or under the wire and get one of the hens and leave the babies to fend for themselves. Mama would catch the babies and put them in a cardboard box and feed them. She’d take them in the house at night and cover them with an old rag. They’d peep for a little bit and then get quite as a mouse till morning. When morning came she’d carry the box back out on the front porch and let them out for the day.

She did this many times and they thought of her as their mama cause every evening at about the same time they’d come up the front door steps looking for mama. Someone would holler here comes your babies mama. If she was in the house she’d come a trotting. If she was already sitting on the porch she’d stick her legs out and they’d climb up both legs and onto her lap. Sometimes they’d climb up on her shoulders. She’d say, “awe, come on and I’ll put you to bed, I know you’re ready fer it.” She’d carry each one and place them back in their box till morning.  This became a daily routine for mama till they grew big enough to fend for themselves. They’d grow so big they already had their little tail feathers and they kept on prancing up those steps for mama to put to bed.  It’d finally get to the point she had to run them back down the steps and I can just hear her now, “ uns go on now and find ye a place to roost, you’re plenty big enough to fend fer yourself.”



My uncle was visiting late one summer evening and was sitting on the porch talking with mama and daddy when a batch of those chicks came up those steps and walked towards mama. She straightened her legs out and they climbed up her legs as pretty as you please and onto her lap.  He asked her about it and she told him they did that every evening wanting to be put to bed. He said he’d never seen anything like it before in his life. He told mama she had those chicks spoiled and she said, “spoiled or not, someone has to take care of the little fellers.”


Mama also loved to raise those pesky guineas and we all hated those things with a passion, daddy included. An ole guinea ain’t got any sense and can do the craziest things. When they sit on a nest of eggs till they hatch out they practically abandon their little ones. We’ve watched ole guinea hens stand out in the pouring down rain and look straight up and never try to hunker down so the little ones could get under them and stay dry. They’d walk around with their head in the air and let the little ones drown. The only thing they were good for was letting us know when a snake crawled through the grass. They’d all gather around it and you never heard the beat and of course the chickens had to join in as well. It’s a wonder the snake didn’t die of a heart attack on the spot.
They also loved going to the main, paved road and just stand in the middle of it.  When one or two would meet their waterloo we’d shout in secret for mama’s sake. She lost quite a few in that road but always managed to triple even more so come spring.

The only thing an ole guinea is fit for is keeping bugs off of stuff. They sure did keep the bugs off of mama’s flowers. They’d even eat ole stink bugs, shewww.  I do believe that’s one of the reasons mama liked to raise them. She sure prided herself on those flowers.


Mama did some funny things when it came to raising chickens and guineas. When an ole guinea was sitting on a nest of eggs mama would watch her till she left the nest for a while and then slip and take those eggs out of the nest and put them under an ole sittin hen while she was off of her nest. She’d remove all of the hen eggs except ONE and replace them with the guinea eggs. It was the funniest sight you’ve ever seen to see that ole hen walking around with a bunch of baby guineas and one little chick in the bunch. 

We always said, there was never a chicken or guinea that built a nest that mama couldn’t find, even if it meant going into the snakiest places there were. Mama prided herself on her chickens and guineas. My mama was an inspiration to us all and even though we didn’t always understand her motives or love for certain things she sure did know her stuff and taught us a lot of life lessons along the way.



I love going back to our childhood home in the spring. I can still hear those ole hens cackling when they lay their eggs and see them running around with those little chicks behind them and yes, I can still hear those ole guineas as well. I can also see mama standing in the yard watching an ole hen take off towards her nest.  It’s like turning back time and I’ll always cherish those sweet memories of mama and her chickens and the ole guineas too. 

                                          © Susie Swanson, 2017

Friday, February 3, 2017

Her Corner Of The World






She came from humble beginnings
A place she grew, learned and loved so
Across many mountains, hills and valleys
There was nary a trail she never came to know

Where a simple, little home became a mansion
And laughter sounds a stronger note than tears
Still holds their rhythm in the scheme of life
 In the wind’s sweet insistence from yesteryears

How many childhood days did she play and run
So happy and carefree through those ancient fields
Feeling the wind and rain brushing against her face
So many praises rise above for the joy it still yields

When she closes her eyes she can still see it clear
And hear the humming of the little, honey bees
Under crab apple trees that still bloom in the spring
She faintly smells the perfumed, petal rippling breeze

And the gathering of family around the fire at night
So many cherished memories still fresh in her mind
A father telling his life stories to each of his young
A mother sewing on quilts, a sure legacy left behind

An old oil lamp sits in the window, guiding her path
Leading her onward to that little mansion home
Where the door is open and the light shines bright
She steps inside to a welcome, the best she’s known

Those familiar voices she hears are music to her ears
Gathered around the table, giving blessings galore
The simple, little things in life, are the best of wealth
Even a bowl of milk and bread is worth so much more


Many seasons have come and gone in yesterday’s wind
 The memories will always be close beside all of her days
For the pleasures of this world is found only in the heart
Perhaps across some shadowy valley or ridge, in joyful ways

 And when she is bearing a load up some steep hillside
Familiar echoes are there, pulling her homeward bound
The cool, mountain air upon her face is still just as fresh
Yet still the earth beneath the paths lie packed and brown

A cool drink of water straight from a mountain spring
Where the mountain still hold its kingdom and crown
Crystal, clear waters flow from its downward sloping
Can quench a thirsty soul better than any to be found

She’ll never forget where she came and where she’s been
Or the many miles while spreading her wings to fly
 Trying to find the end of a rainbow takes an eternity
But the gold lies within her heart underneath the same sky

In her corner of the world the mountains are her legacy
She never knows what lies beyond a hilltop but delight
For the things that cause memories to awaken her soul
She so yearns for, she shall sit down and write and write

© Susie Swanson, 2017