Susan Marie Molloy

Life in the Oasis

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Morning Meditation: Rest Stop

A decorated bench sits empty this morning at a lake near my cottage.


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Christmas Phone Calls


Yes, this is the time of year when Christmas cards and letters make their rounds, and the time when families grow a little closer in their closeness, and phone calls are made because – who knows why?

Now, I’m not a grandparent, yet I’ve been on the other end, listening to a grandparent’s attempts to converse with the grandchildren, the kids being at an age where they can formulate complex sentences and make inquires of their own. You know:   Conversation.

What I’ve heard goes mostly like this:

Grandparent: “Hi! How you doin’?’
Grandchild: “O-kaaaaay.”

Grandparent: “How’s school?’
Grandchild: “O-kaaaaay.”

Grandparent: “What’s your favorite subject?”
Grandchild: “I don’t know.”

Grandparent: “What are you doing in Scouting?”
Grandchild: “I don’t know.”

Grandparent: “Who is John Galt?”
Grandchild: “O-kaaaaay.”

By this time, the conversation gets overly strained, and usually the grandchild is handing the phone to a parent in desperation over the reenactment of the Spanish Inquisition.

So, my beau and I devised a list of possible questions for grandparents who know this struggle, and know their grandchildren really aren’t interested in conversation. These are best posed to grade school age kids:

  1. My, how you’ve grown!
  2. Have any good job offers lately?
  3. Are you in graduate school yet?
  4. Who’s your favorite clown?
  5. Paper, or plastic?
  6. Are you keeping up with the Kardashians?
  7. Are you looking at Annapolis or West Point?
  8. Where’s the beef?
  9. So, what kind of pimple medicine do you use?
  10. Did you make your vote count?
  11. Who’s your favorite on “Dancing with the Stars”?
  12. Does America really have talent?
  13. Are you smarter than a fifth grader?
  14. What kind of car are you driving these days?
  15. Have you discovered those magazines in your daddy’s closet yet?
  16. What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
  17. Who is your spirit animal?
  18. Are you your brother’s keeper?
  19. Heads or tails?
  20. How much wood can a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

I’m sure there are a million more way-out questions that are guaranteed to at least bring meaningful conversation with the grandchildren’s parents, once the grandchildren drop the phone. Hope this list is a start for grandparents to add a little zing! to Christmas phone calls with their grandchildren—

Happy Holidays!

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


Today is So Long Ago

Last night became a time to think about time.

While straightening up the house and closing the shutters for the night, I passed by our Christmas tree. This glass ornament caught my eye:I received it from one of my 6th grade students, and it was so long ago, I had to whip out my abacus and figure out how old he must be by now.

Twenty-eight. Twenty-eight years old.

That really took me aback. And if you look in the picture, you might see a red candle ornament (yes, right there to the right of the snowman) my Ma made about thirty-three years ago. So long ago.

It was only a couple of years ago I was learning to play piano, and got this music book:

The day after Thanksgiving, my parents put this cheesy Santa Claus and his reindeer on the knickknack shelf in the kitchen:

Last week, every lady had glittery plastic corsages on her coat:

On December 6th, each one of us kids put one of these plastic managers on our dressers:
Yesterday, my grandparents put their tulle tree on their coffee table:

Today will someday become “so long ago—

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


I Don’t Get It

I have a legitimate question: When did Winnie the Pooh’s little donkey friend, Eeyore, become a part of Christmas?  And why?

He seems to be taking the stage as a blow-up decoration on peoples’ lawns, along with Winnie the Pooh, Minions from “Despicable Me,” and dragons.

So, what are their roles at Christmas that they become a part of the Christmas décor?

I really would like to know the tradition or logic behind this—

—just as frogs, beetles, and dragonflies decorated Christmas cards about a century ago:

It gets lost with me.  I don’t get it.

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


My Christmas Reading Gala 2017: Update #1

A couple weeks ago, I set a reading goal for myself, of books I want to read before the end of this year.

So, how’s it going? you ask.

Pretty well, I reply.  Have a seat.  Pour yourself a cuppa.  Here are the books that made it to the “Finished Reading” shelf as of today:

1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War by Charles Emmerson
• This is a fascinating, history-political science work that takes the reader around the world to every continent (except Antarctica) and the major cities to show what governments and people were thinking and doing. To put it succinctly, World War I was a little bit of a surprise for most of the world. I recommend “1913” it is a lengthy book, so be aware.

The Three Daughters of Madame Liang by Pearl S. Buck
• Madame Liang, long abandoned by her husband who took up with concubines (gasp!), has three daughters who are the center of her world. She runs a restaurant for the elite in Communist China, while her daughters – Grace, Joy, and Mercy – live their lives in China and the United States. People are suspicious. People are spied upon. The lives of Madame Liang, her daughters, their husbands and boyfriends, their children and close friends are all intertwined to bring a fully rich story of youth, age, and wisdom. I recommend “Madame Liang” for its beautiful descriptive scenes, remarkable history, and well-rounded characters. Note that it is filled with overt messages about governments, change, and tradition.

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport
• In “The Romanov Sisters”, we get a look at the personalities of the four sisters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. We get a good understanding of their schooling, social interactions, familial roles, their relationship with their parents and brother, Alexi. What I found the most interesting is what the author believes is the real reason Czar Nicholas II abdicated, Czarina Alexandria’s unmistakable poor health (and how much was it, really, psychosomatic?), and the back and forth between Nicholas and Alexandria and the other royal houses of Europe in trying to find husbands for Olga and Tatiana. I recommend “The Romanov Sisters” for its thorough research, interesting photographs, and clearly written chapters and index.

The Case of the Perjured Parrot by Erle Stanley Gardner
• This is the fourteenth Perry Mason book, published in 1939. The pace moved along quite well in “Parrot,” and the twists and turns were remarkable. Just when I thought I knew who the murderer was, there was another twist to the tale. About two chapters to go, I nailed the murderer down. But there was Mason, bringing up another fact, and wouldn’t you know it? The murderer was the last person I thought. The funniest passages in the book were the back-and-forth between Mason and the sheriff at the coroner’s inquest. Is the parrot a witness? Was the parrot sworn under oath? Should we believe the parrot? Brilliant light comedy! I recommend “The Perjured Parrot” for fans of detective fiction, mystery, and Perry Mason, in general.

Here’s what still left on my Christmas Vacation reading list:

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Rest in Fleece: Ghosts Tall Tales & Horror Stories by Jan Olandese
A stack of books by Bobby Underwood:
Beyond Heaven’s Reach, No Holiday from Murder, Johnny’s Girl, Lover’s Tide, Nautica City, Dark Corridor, Galveston, The Trail to Santa Rosa, Holly, Passage to Tomorrow, The Wild Country, Grover’s Creek

I’ll continue to update my progress here and on Goodreads, where you can read my more in-depth reviews of these and the other books in my library.

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.