Susan Marie Molloy

🌺 Life in the Oasis 🌴


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Chili con Carne, Life in the Oasis, and Writing

A little bit about me, my blog, and outlook on life:

You, probably like me, have been hearing ad infinitum how blasted cold it’s been lately. And if you live in that cold weather, I feel for you. I grew up in Chicago, where wintry winds off the lake fuel the bitterly cold air temperatures. Oh, yeah, and then there was the short time when I lived about 50 miles from the Manitoba, Canada border, where it seemed winter lasts 48 weeks out of the year. So, I know cold.

It’s been cool here, too, in Florida. The air temperature actually got into the 20s*F the past couple nights. Who would’ve thought? Well, so much for escaping the Midwest’s cold winters! To warm us up, I made a large pot of homemade chili con carne, and used chunks of beef instead of ground beef, for a change of dining pace.

As we were eating, I was thinking about when I started blogging, which was about 6 years ago. How it started was when my beau suggested it. His own blogging began when he retired from his long public service career and became a real estate broker, which led to him moving into the property management business, which, after that flamed out (rather, he burned out), led him to writing about beading art and wire work. Now, his occasional blog explores and comments upon the twisted side of life in It’s a Twisted Life According to Gene.

Which brings me back to my blog. I went from one leitmotif to another, and I didn’t seem to find my comfort level. Right now, if you flip through my blog, you will only find blogs as early as 2014, and those are just book reviews. Unfortunately, I wiped out a lot of articles I wrote because, in a fit of non-confidence one day, I got rid of blogs I thought were goofy. Or stupid. Or boring.

How silly.

Yes, it took me awhile, but I found what’s comfortable for me. My blog is subtitled, “Life in the Oasis”. What it means is, that my life – my world – is rich, lush, productive, and a sanctuary, while the world outside might be a foreboding wasteland at times. Moreover, my beau – my husband – is my own oasis, where he is, and always was, the one person I could always find refuge in, comfort, and happiness when the world outside was demanding, cruel, and inhospitable.

So – life in the oasis is a place – tangible and intangible – where harmony, fertility, cheerfulness, and optimistic thinking reign.

My blog focuses on the positive aspects of life, and the things I like. I write about my mundane daily life, movie and book reviews, how my beau and I keep love flaming hot, my discoveries and adventures, our travels, tips on homemaking, and other whacky subjects. I share my poems and photographs and share your blogs that grab me. And there are a variety of topics that can’t be particularly categorized, but they make it to this blog.

Since I left my glamorous 9 to 5 job (sarcasm) this past summer, I’m working at home now doing things I love (writing, reading, creating art, homemaking, travelling, being a wife, waiting on His Lordship and Her Ladyship – our two dogs, Toby and Trixie).  My blog has gently become an oasis where I hope you will find a few minutes to stop by and discover pacific, nurturing, and hilarious topics that somehow enrich your life, as your blogs do for me.

Welcome to Life in the Oasis.
Thank you for stopping by.
Sharing is cool.
Your logical, well-thought out comments here are what I live for.

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.

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Writing as a Process

Ever since I held those fat pencils in first grade and learned to write my A, B, C’s, I liked to write. And I liked to draw, but that’s another story for another blog.

Back in the days when I wore a school uniform and we learned to not mumble when talking, and we were polite by saying, “Yes, thank you,” or “No, thank you,” and we practiced how to curtsy and bow (yes, we did!), writing reports and essays could only be done with pencil or pen (starting in fourth grade) and paper. There were mistakes and erasures, or if using a pen, there was the crumbling up the paper scenario and starting over.  Crossing out was never allowed.

Then in freshman year in high school, I learned to type on a manual typewriter. I was bad at it: slow, nervous, mistake-full, and I could write faster than I could type. There was only one electric typewriter in the classroom, and it was reserved for the best typing student. Good. Let her have it.  At home, my parents had a Sears Signature electric typewriter. That was even worse for me because the keys were so much more sensitive than a manual typewriter, and it was like power steering on a car: I didn’t like the loose feel to it. Therefore, when I wrote my short stories and poems, it was pen and paper all the way. When I had a typed report to write, I first wrote it out, then typed it.

Three years later, I got my first office job, and my typing skills improved. I grew to like electric typewriters. I got better and better, and one day I could type faster than I could write. Finally.

Then one day at work, they brought in a few – very few – computers. Commodore 64. IBM. AB Dick. They had those huge twelve-inch floppy disks. Everyone in the office had to share. Eventually, computers became cheaper, and now everyone in the office has his own to use.

Suddenly, when the computers appeared at work, it became easier for me to write. By that time, I had a job where I wrote lengthy reports and speeches, and it was so easy to think a thought, type it out, change my mind, back up, erase, re-think a thought, and retype, all without wasting paper and ink. Eventually I bought my own computer for home to bang out short stories and poetry.

These days, I find it easy to write via a computer, and equally so with pen and paper. I also keep a small notebook and pen in my purse to write down outlines and phrases that pop into my head when I’m out in the world. Many of the poems I published first saw the light of day in my hardcover journals. When I’m ready to get a creative piece set for publication, that’s when I start hitting the keys. Putting my work on the computer becomes a friendly editor.

Now I’m using my writing skills for the on-line bead business my beau and I own. For each of the over one thousand items we have in the shop, I am currently working on writing product descriptions for each bead or beading supply we offer. The section that gives specifics, such as type, size, material, et cetera is mundane – clearly cut and dry. The fun and challenge of writing begins with how I can cleverly describe each item so that our customers get a better idea how to use the product, yet keep their interest at the same time. I prefer an it’s all-business with a tiny humorous twist approach I want our customers to have that little smile on their faces while they put items in their cart, eagerly anticipating their shipment to arrive.

It’s not to say that every description I write has a little smile to it; some beads are a little difficult for me to write beyond, “(Here are all the specs); these tiny beads work well with peyote stitch projects.” Yet, what’s nice is that I can at any time, when the Creative Writing Muse visits me, go back on-line and re-write that boring description to something spectacular.

Therefore, although in some applications I much prefer the pen and ink route, there is a necessity in parts of my life where a computer is better and more efficient.

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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California Tale

My blogs over the next few days are scheduled to be on the light side, such as little peeks into my daily life as 2017 rolls to a close, a few excerpts from a book I’m writing about my travel anecdotes, some general thoughts on general topics, and a few book reviews. I will respond to comments and emails, but please bear with me as I might not get to my laptop posthaste.

In my lifetime so far, I probably made about nine trips to California. The topography and the vegetation in the state are remarkable. What surprised me was how damp and chilly it can get in the springtime, and once I caught a respiratory infection there because of that. Who would’ve thought?

That same trip, I attended a party, and all the Hollywood-like stereotypes were out in full regalia. It was just how imagined Hollywood to be: People air kissing upon meeting. Bragging about vacations. Waving jewel-laden hands in front of your face. Phony conversations. Even phonier laughs. One trying to out-do the other. But, then, that could be a party anywhere, I suppose, given the right combination of personalities.

It was one whacky, eye-opening excursion, out of many I made to La La Land.

Currently, I am working on a book of my travel experiences, of the whacky places I visited, and the zany people I met along the way. I’ll be sharing a few excerpts here on my blog. I expect the book to be finished summer of 2018.

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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The Voting Rabbi: Tinted Toes, Temple, and The Times

In my last blog, “The Story of the Voting Rabbi,” I wondered who Rabbi Nathan Wolf was, that lone voter in New York’s 40th Precinct of the Tenth Assembly District in November 1934. Who was this man, this voter, this rabbi?

Apparently, he was a very busy citizen.

I found a blog, specifically Jen Taylor Friedman’s blog from HaSoferet.com, which spoke about Rabbi Wolf. He was quoted in the 1936 Milwaukee Journal article, “Tinted Toes Help Girls Get Higher Quality Husbands”:

The Marriage Brokers’ Association . . . reported Friday that tinted toe and fingernails are getting girls more and better husbands . . .  ”Every year there is more business,” announced Rabbi Nathan Wolf …”For example, the girls say ‘Do men like painted nails?’ I say ‘Listen, they want to marry a lady, a pretty one. So make yourself beautiful. Ruby, rose–they look nice. Color your nails if you want to. Even your toenails. It will be a surprise for him.’ . . . The association believes a girl should be beautiful, young in comparison to the man’s age, well-educated and have a dowry of some kind…

The rabbi seems to have had an open ‘round-the-clock temple, too:

He was apparently a bit creative when it came to raising a minyan: In a 1936 issue of the Jewish Floridian: “Midtown New York is being treated to the sight of a sandwich man advertising Yiskor and Kaddish services at the Temple and Centre of Times Square…The rabbi of the Temple is Dr. Nathan Wolf…” This is the Garment District in the 1930s, an area crammed full of Jewish immigrants working in garment manufacture. There were quite a lot of shuls in the area servicing the workers; I imagine that Rabbi Wolf’s “Always Open” temple was quite attractive to shift workers and so on who were trying to cram a bit of communal Judaism into their lives. Best guess is that his shul, like many others of the area, declined as the area ceased to be full of Jewish immigrants.

Moreover, in 1939, he published an encyclopedia of Jewish festivals and holidays.

And now, to return to the mid-term elections in November 1934.

The Chicago Tribune’s article (the one that started me on this research project), read thusly:

Conversely, the New York Times article reads a bit differently. The city’s cost is considerably less. The precinct number moves from the 49th to the 42nd. We see the addition of 100 spectators to the two policemen and four election officials. And we discover this is an annual event, and why he is the sole voter:


It’s difficult to discern which of the two newspaper stories are correct, and how much is embellished, based on missing information and conflicting data. That is, what is true, and what is not.

It sounds a lot like today’s news, doesn’t it?

©Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.


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The Story of the Voting Rabbi

Writing is never conducted in a vacuum. There is research to be done, notes to be jotted down, paragraphs to be edited and deleted, thoughts to be discussed with family and friends, books to read and ruminate over, and more research to be delved into.

I’m in the process of writing a book I mentioned here once or twice. It seems that I’ve been writing it forever – and maybe so. It’s a story that’s been floating and spinning in my head and sprawled in shorthand and scribbled notes in a notebook for years. Just as writing – good writing – is never achieved in a vacuum, neither is composing a well-written book. And therein comes the research.

My book needed some information on women’s makeup fashion and habits from the 1930s. I knew a little bit about that – I’m a big fan of culture from the first half of the twentieth century – yet I needed specifics: product names, colors, types, where to buy the beauty products, et cetera. An Internet search led me to the November 7, 1934 archived issue of the Chicago Daily Tribune. It had advertisements and a plethora of information I could use.

My husband and I even found a story about one of his grandfather’s friends on the front page (There’s a story for the future!)

Then, turning to the front page, where the headlines and sub-headlines screamed all the news of the mid-term election where the Democrats were the Stars of the Day and won a Supermajority, and towards the bottom of the page, was this story of the voting rabbi in New York City:

Now I am curious why Rabbi Wolf was the only voter in the precinct. Did the election officials know there would be only one voter, or did it just turn out that way? Who was Rabbi Wolf? What kind of poems were in the book he carried to the polls?

This will need more research, and who knows where that will lead me?

©Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.