Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When I started painting The Peg Box, Jim interjected, “WAIT, Sue! Don’t you want to sand the box smooth before you paint?”  I explained to him that the box itself represents “life” and life is not smooth; it is full of up and downs and unexpected twist and turns.  When he came home from work the following day, I asked him to glue the pictures down on the box.  He pointed out that the pictures were not lined up to the file folder insert at the end of the box.  I nodded, reminding him that the direction upon which I set the pictures represented those twist and turns that I was talking about.  “Life” is not a straight journey and some of those turns in the road are sharp and unexpected.

The pictures represent happy memories along that road with an example of an unwanted twist.  Pictures also represent life’s unforeseen. Pictures do not always come out as we intended due to lighting, the electronic device they were taken with, the person behind the camera or the subject in front of the camera.   Nor does the word “Survivor” necessarily mean that you poked Cancer in its derrière one more time, because you have survived other twists in the road, large and small, to reach the moment in time that this box was created. 

Those black specks you see, if you look closely, were created by a fan and NOT intended. Nor was the torn “S” on sisters.  In life you constantly get these small bumps and look at the positive side.  One, as you squint to see these black flicks you are sharing a piece of Jay, Fred and Wes’s Carolina projects that I made for them.

 Secondly, the purple, pink and gold flicks, shells, and stickers were INTENDED as an afterthought to make the best of the unintended. Therefore, this makes the family cycle complete, by including bits of Strawn, Colin, Lacy, Paige and Claire’s projects onto your box as well.  (Jim is already included for he glued the pictures on ALL of the boxes). Now “Peg’s Box” has become a “WE” box along with remembering funny, loving, crazy, and dramatic memories of you as I made it.   Taking advantage of the unexpected bumps in making this box reminded me we never know what life holds for us.  We simply enjoy and embrace Life’s Blessings and survive the blips no matter how large or small those blips might be.

Paige helped design her own shell frame (gray) and Claire's frame (purple) with the shells and drift wood that I have collected through the years.

 I mainly made this box to make you smile, laugh, cheer you up, cry a little and think of your crazy sister who loves you with all her heart.  I like things “a little over the top,” garish and yes, unexpected.  Therefore, life is never dull.  Thank you for making me a part of your life and sharing ‘family stories.’ I so love them all and look forward to the new ones.  I love going down memory lane with you and hearing funny, amusing and zinger ideas you made for Kelly and Kyle.
Lastly and most importantly, what comes along with your box is a BIG HUG FULL OF WARMTH AND UNDERSTANDING.  If you close your eyes and use your imagination you will feel it…Better yet get all the kids and Gary to give you big hugs for me…..I love you, Peg!

The colorful specks and the shells were intended.  The shells, a few jewels, and the ribbon were placed on the box by Peggy.  This makes the cycle of the "Peg Box" complete. 

Dear Sue,
This is the greatest prize I have ever received.  The story behind the box intensifies the beauty of the box, if that is possible as it is simply beautiful of itself.  I cannot tell you the emotions (mainly joy) that come each time I study it.  It amazes me that so much can be said in a box top.  Leave it to you to make a practical object into a valuable treasure.  Thank you does not say enough, but THANK YOU !!***!!  I too enjoy all the stories and sharing that we do.  You are right, it is laughter that sees us through all the twists and turns, lumps and bumps, and of course the smooth times of our lives.  I love you, Sue!  peg

These next two examples are pictures I make for Colin and Jay are done on Photoshop.  It was included because it represents many adjustments I made in all the pictures.


For fun I added this picture for it shows Peg's Box
and Antone, Kai Bella and Isaiah's photo carry boxes.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


        Persnickerity NAME2

Are you picky about food or perhaps picky about where you go to eat? I was always under my own personal impression that I was NOT one of “THOSE PERSNICKEY ONES.” Especially, if you knew my sister Strawn, who is one of the pickiest ladies I know. (She loves MacDonald’s French Fries, by the way.) I am one of those people that truly enjoy all different types of food. To look at me you would know that. This corpulent weight isn’t because of fried foods. Unfortunately, my favorite foods are ice cream, all kinds of cheese, soups and stews, dark chocolate, sweets and more sweets, all types of breakfast foods, ethnic foods, salads, fruit and hot dogs (baked or fried, not boiled). Out of these favorite foods you will notice that the only healthy ones were fruit, soup and salads. Even worse, when I developed Atria Fibrillation (AFIB) and was placed on a medication called Coumadin (blood thinner), salad was limited to small quantities. My least favorite foods (NOTE! I did not say I didn’t like) are hamburgers, green peas, French Fries, hominy grits and pizza.

So why am I writing this post? I need to clear the air and put an explanation behind “I’ll eat anywhere as long as it is not...!” One reason I am writing this post is due to my daughter-in-law Lacy, who insinuated that I was picky. That statement did NOT go over too well, especially since I had just picked her up from her parent’s house, and she did not seem to be in a very accommodating mood. My thinking was Lacy decided “picky” Sue was not going to be one more “thorn” she needed to deal with that day. Colin’s nap time was close, and we had limited time before he would go to sleep. Lacy needed some peace. I was totally flabbergasted. “ME” picky! I was in a state of denial. Later, upon analyzing it, I not only discovered she was right, but she was being thoughtful in asking where I wanted to eat. I was asked, since I did not like places like Burger King, MacDonald’s, and pizza, where did I want to eat. For the record, I do like some fast food establishments (Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Arby’s, Sub type places, etc.), but at this point, I chose not to argue.

Secondly, upon writing this post, I am now saying… it IS OKAY to be choosey, it IS OKAY to be different, and it IS OKAY to be particular about where you eat and how your food is prepared. I may not be like every “red-blooded” American that likes   MacDonald’s French Fries, Hardee's burgers, and all the different Pizza establishments…SO WHAT! This only means I am “unique” and not worried about being different. It is not whether you are right or wrong, but about … who YOU are and what you prefer.

Lacy opened my eyes to a good characteristic that I possess, and I thank her. She was concerned that I found a place to eat that was quick but acceptable to what I liked, for I had not eaten that day. Although at the time I was NOT appreciative, I should have been. This brings to mind a choice that my daughter Paige and her husband made on an eating establishment I did not like and had emphasized that fact before they selected it. (“The food is not good and the service is terrible plus slow.”) In fact, I was down-right mad, at the time, and I made everyone miserable. It may not have been the correct behavior, but I kept thinking that I would never have chosen a place that someone did not like, especially, if I was aware of their dislike. How selfish, especially since I emphasized my dislike for this restaurant. (Even worse, I do not regret my behavior after all this time, though I guess one might say I acted selfishly too. Hey, has the word compromise left the English language? And, no, Jay, I have not forgotten that cheese burger pizza you ordered in Chicago.) To my knowledge I have never selected a place to eat that someone seriously did not like? If I have, please remind me. My theory… with all the restaurants and fast foods joints available to choose from these days, surely we can find one that is palatable to all.

Thirdly, why this post? Everyone has a reason for choosing or not choosing a particular place to eat. I am not a fast food fan. I especially do not like MacDonald’s, Hardee's and Burger King for quite a few reasons. First, I am not fond of anything greasy. Even when I cook bacon, hot dogs and sausage, I want them either crispy (bacon) or well-done (blackened hot dogs) and well-drained. (Do NOT give me bacon that is limp for I associate it with dripping in grease. In my eyes all I can see is the greasy stuff dropping one drip at a time. YUCK!).(Or is it dripping one drop at a time? LOL) I will say there are exceptions to the rule when it comes to some fried foods such as fried chicken (well-drained), minute/Swiss steak, sausage, corn beef hash, and onion rings. As long as some fried foods are drained of the fat, it can be enjoyable on occasion. Secondly, I inherited my Mother’s smeller. When I go in a place that has a greasy smell, my stomach wants to roll.
Thirdly, I had to deal with these type restaurants in my early married lifeThirdly, I had to deal with these type restaurants in my early married life.Two or three times a week during football, basketball and volleyball seasons, when Jimmy and I coached said teams plus the Beaufort High Cheerleaders the late night burger, after out-of-town ball games, was on the platter (20 years). This is not counting the fact that my kids liked these places; it also meant a quick cheap meal. Nevertheless, this has put a permanent negative blip on my brain cells.

Actually, I have come a long way in picking eating establishments. Belinda Carson, who is a super great friend and cook, and her husband Jim have introduced me to some great side of the road diners in out of the way places. Restaurants I would never have tried before I met them. I hate to think of all the great places I have missed in my life. Due to an inherited “hang-up” from my Mom, who called these places “greasy spoons” and was always worried that they would give you food poisoning, I never patronized one. (This came from Peggy. “I really don’t think Mom was a snob, she was just a New Yorker with NY City ways. She came up during a time when NY was getting immigrants from all over the world and little places would pop up to feed them. They were using a lot of grease and were rat infested. TB was becoming a real problem and many of the places would be shut down “over night”. Established New Yorkers did fear them. That would stick in my brain too!”) I AGREE!

Lastly, and most importantly….why choose something you dislike, when you can have better? You just might be introducing someone to something they too will enjoy. It’s a matter of “TASTE”! So yawl, YOU SHOULD BE “PERSNICKERITY”! And if you can’t come to a consensus, you may end up eating alone…

“It’s good food and not fine words that keeps me alive.”        Les Femmes Savantes
(Added February 2013) Since I am so particular about what I eat and I can be extreme at times, I decided to add these restaurants /dives/ cafés (however they may be described) to my post.  They are mighty good places to eat and can be found in the Charleston/Edisto Island area.   The Hominy Grill is found in the MUSC Charleston area off of Rutledge.  The Old Firehouse restaurant is found in Hollywood, SC between Charleston and Edisto Island.  The Glass Onion can be found as you enter Charleston on Highway 17 (Savannah Highway). The Old Post Office restaurant and Main’s Market can be found as you enter Edisto Island.  McConkey’s Jungle Shack, The Sea Cow, and The Waterfront restaurants can be found down Jungle Road in Edisto Beach. Whaley’s can be found off Palmetto Boulevard, on Neptune road on Edisto Island, SC.



Sunday, September 4, 2011


“You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.” Henry Drummond
I wonder if everyone, when they were a child, imagined what Heaven looked like and where it existed?  I did, and I still hope, it isn’t just a child’s imagination.  I imagined that above the Earth beyond the clouds there is this mystical, beautiful space called Heaven with a pearly gate that stretches and surrounds it.  Those who are pure of heart could look up and see tiny twinkling angels peeking through the clouds watching “us” earthlings. Since I could never see these transcendent angels, it was/is obvious, that I am not “pure” of heart.  Even when the stratosphere is full of fierce storms such as volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.; this serene world would remain the same, never changing, except for the amount of angels that entered this heavenly place. I believed, and still believe, that Earth is Purgatory. How we live our lives on Earth will determine how God will relate to St. Peter on His decision; will you, or will you not enter “The Heavenly Gate!”

“When angels visit us, we do not hear the rustle of wings, nor feel the feathery touch of the breast of a dove; but we know their presence by the love they create in our hearts.” Emily Dickinson/Billy Joel

Since God is a merciful God, “Hell” is represented by the ground upon where we are buried. Hell is not necessarily this fiery place; it could be damp, wet, ashy, or watery.  Simply, if your spirit/soul does not rise, you would remain dormant within the Earth.  Upon dying, if you have been a “worthy” person on this Earth, your spirit would float up a stairway that leads to those pearly gates where St. Peter, with the help of God, has three choices. 

The first choice….You would be sent into Heaven as an Archangel to sit on the right hand of God.  Your life on Earth would have been described as a person full of love for God and your fellow man.  You would have been devoted to sharing this “love” with your surrounding family and friends.  You would have been honest and giving of your heart and of your time.  You would have been kind, patient, understanding, a good listener, nonjudgmental, non-prejudice, encouraging, good natured, and full of hope for a better world.  These Angels would work directly with God.  They would give input into ways those on Purgatory Earth could practice to change their behavior, in order to live in harmony and peace within themselves and with each other.  Although God makes the final judgment, He considers His Archangel's ideas, and pray that those on Earth will listen.

The second choice ...You would enter heaven as a “Working Angel”.  These angels would possess the same qualities of the Archangels, but they may have a few unacceptable personality behaviors that need improvement. The “Working Angels” would move between Heaven and Earth as "Spirits” to help those who need guidance.  These Working Angels, who possess their own undesirable personality flaw, would be sent to guide those who possess the same weakness; God is hoping in doing so, they would help each other.   If a person has more than one adverse personality characteristic that needs modifying, a team of angels may be needed.  If successful in his assigned missions, the “Working Angels” would become Archangels.  Some of these same (work/knowledgeable angels) would also assist in flickering extra bits of awareness and education into areas of science, math, medicine, farming, engineering, computers, and other fields of endeavor; therefore, improve mankind’s ability to survive in the ever changing world they have placed themselves .

"We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another." ~Luciano de Crescenzo
The third choice...You would be sent to “Purgatory Heaven” which lies just outside the “Pearly Gate.” Here you are called “wingless” angels. Although you possess a majority of the characteristics of a working or an Archangel, God would feel you have several character weaknesses needing more attention.   On some missions, God may possibly send, both, an Archangels and a Working Angel to Purgatory Heaven to help an individual earn his wings. These divine angels may want to obtain the assistance from another "wingless" angel to help them; this helps both "wingless" angels earn their wings. Upon earning your wings in Purgatory Heaven you would enter Heaven as a “Work Angel.”

“There is only one path to Heaven. On Earth, we call it Love." Anonymous

In conclusion, I wonder how my family would be judged upon reaching those Pearly Gates.  I “imagine” Saint Peter would immediately make  Peggy and Jimmy "Archangels".  Peg and Jim would help God in the guidance of earthly behavior and positive attitude/thinking. Peg could help Dad with his Historian duties. She'll twitter between Heaven and Earth helping other historian’s record chronological events for future generations.  God would place Jim, Clara, and John in charge of all areas of crafting and small designer projects needed to keep Heaven unworldly.  He may even use Jim to teach angels how to glide through the Earth’s atmosphere when they leave Heaven and head for Earth. Clara and Jim, along with Work Angels, would help Earthlings with patience, acceptance, and open-mindedness.  

St. Peter would let Mary Gay into heaven as a “Work Angel;” with the help of Peggy (an Archangel), Gay would assist in the area of English. Gay would teach the proper use of English and correct spelling; St. Peter will remind her that she needs to work on judgmental issues while earning her Archangel Wings. She is reminded that only God has the right to judge others.  (Mom will become an Archangel, once she addresses these same issues.)  Mom, along with Dad, would be assigned the duty of teaching angels the appreciation of reading and would, also, teach those who cannot read. 

Strawn would become a Work Angel, only because she would be needed to help other teachers on Earth in the area of organizing, neatness, teaching, and planning. There would be a need for her to work on her confidentiality issues.

Jay, Lacy, Colin, Paige, Fred, Wes, Claire, and all cousins would all make it into Heaven as either Archangels or Work Angels; only if, they continue on the path they are presently headed.

Gary would make it through the Pearly Gate; but, he would have to work on showing more understanding and tolerance towards others.  He would be placed in charge of the divine mystic gardens that bear fruit and flowers surrounding the gate of Heaven. He would, also, be in charge of recreation; teaching angels the importance of spreading their wings on a daily basis. Gary, with Jim’s help, would instruct the wingless angels how to maneuver themselves as "spirits" between Earth and Purgatory Heaven without the use of wings.

"If you go to Heaven without being naturally qualified for it you will not enjoy yourself there." George Bernard Shaw
As for me…..St. Peter would look at me, shake his head, and say, ”Sue, you need to join Cecil and Clay in Purgatory Heaven.” 

“Rats!," I would say. “St. Peter, does this mean I have to hangout with those guys since they are in the same place as me?” 

St. Peter would look at me and say, “Now you know the reason why you are being sent to Purgatory Heaven... ATTITUDE!”

“If I ever reach heaven I expect to find three wonders there: first, to meet some I had not thought to see there; second, to miss some I had expected to see there; and third, the greatest wonder of all, to find myself there.” Unknown

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


My sister Strawn is selling her condo and moving to Florida. Some of the Strawn Family legacy will be lost. My sister is looking for a place to live close to St. Augustine, Florida. She will not have a place to hang these portraits that she inherited from my Dad. She had two huge gold framed pictures of our great, great or is it our 3rd/ 4th generation great grandparents. They came to our end of the Strawn/Livingston Family after my Aunt Estelle Strawn Middlemas, sister to my Grandmother Francis Strawn Livingston, passed away. The Middlemas Family used to reside in Jacksonville, Florida. She died in Asheville, NC.. Evidently, the family did not have a place to hang these paintings and sent them to Dad, Theodore Burroughs Livingston. He hung them in our living room/office at the King Cotton Motel and later at their Santee Lake house in Summeron, SC. (Now owned by Gay Buddin) Unfortunately we have lost contact with the Strawn Family. We did not know if any of the family would have been interested in these portraits, nor did we know how to contact them. They are large portraits, and I have no idea how Strawn could have preserved, much less kept them.

I do know that my sister Strawn would have gladly GIVEN these pictures to a museum or family member, but unfortunately she sold them to an antique dealer recently in St. Augustine. Unfortunately I was unaware of this until today. I wrote this initial post differently. I have rewritten it frustrated that I was too late to save these pictures."One my memories of these portraits still gives me chills. When I was in the same room with these pictures, I did not want to do anything to bug my whatever great grandfather for it seemed that wherever I moved he seemed to follow me."

If the Perrys, Strawns, Middlemas', Livingstons, Parrs, Sheards see this blog you may be interested in this little bit of history.
My grandmother, Frances Strawn Livingston was born in Ottawa, Illinois. She had three sisters: Estelle Strawn Middlemas, Del Gracia Strawn Sheard, Isabelle Strawn Perry and an older brother by twenty years, Lester Herbert Strawn. (Lester Strawn’s only son was Taylor Strawn.)

Their Father was Henry Clinton Strawn who married Mary Elizabeth Powell. Her grandfather was Jeremiah Strawn and he married Hannah Boucher. I believe the Strawn’s came to Pennsylvania around 1690 and migrated to Ottawa, Illinois. Jeremiah Strawn, at that time, was a wealthy farmer. My grandmother Frances was born in Ottawa, Illinois.

My grandmother’s maternal grandfather was Thomas Powell from Abergavenny. Wales.
He married Elizabeth Day. He was a Baptist preacher who founded 400 Baptist churches in Illinois during the pioneers’ days.


Frances Strawn Livingston

In a single thread we cannot see
The rich design of a tapestry.
A passing life is a thread of the whole,
The timeless one, the evolving soul.
Whence do we come?--Where do we go?

Are we drawn to earth again and again,
Or from planet to planet, plane to plane?
Have we hailed from darkness, from Pluto’s shore,
Carriers of hate and global war?
Whence do we come?--Where do we go?

Does affinity shape our course to the stars?
Are happy warriors drawn to Mars?
Do bitter curmudgeons toil toward Saturn,
Their experience curdled to a sour pattern?
Whence do we come?--Where do we go?

Do the winged feet in the mind’s domain,
Flash away to the speed of Mercury’s plane?
Is the moon a magnet for those who feel
The spell of dreams, to mystics, the real?
Whence do we come?--Where do we go?

Is the rapture felt a dim reflection
Of Venus, abode of love’s perfection?
For Jupiter’s sons, does the violet ray,
A dazzling radiance, light their way?
Whence do we come?---Where do we go?

When death hails the dawn of recurring lives
Of the ethos, the essence that lives and survives,
Is the Sun the farthest goal in the flight,
The glory, the source of being and light?
Whence do we come?--Where do we go?

In a single thread we cannot see
The rich design of a tapestry,
A passing life is a thread of the whole,
The timeless one, the evolving soul.

Author’s note: The title is taken from a painting by Gauguin, in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Published by American Poetry Magazine, Official Organ of American Literary Association, Inc. 83rd. Street.-Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. March April 1947

Evidently, talent ran in the Powell and Strawn families. One of my grandmother’s sisters painted beautiful plates and dessert dishes. I inherited four from my grandmother along with copies of the poems my grandmother Frances wrote during her life time. (Each of my grandchildren will inherit a plate.) Earlier, in one of my posts, I published one of Grandmother France’s poems and I will add another one here.
Elsie Strawn Armstrong used to write lyrics as well. Elsie Strawn Armstrong has a book written about her “The Life of a Woman Pioneer” by her grandson James Elder Armstrong. Elsie Strawn was the daughter of Isaiah Strawn who was eighth in a family of twelve. His grandfather was Jacob Strawn who came from England as an orphan and settled in Pa. I am not sure if Jacob, Isaiah, and Elsie Strawn were my ancestors, but the book was a great read. She sure looks like one of my ancestors and the book was part of my Grandmother’s and Father’s library.

“Let’s Walk Together”---1787 and 1944
Frances Strawn Livingston

The portrait, called “Lady With a Nosegay,”
was a Copley, lovely Dolly in a violet gown.
She was a reigning beauty, in her day
the favorite toast of Philadelphia town.

Her diary recorded, in a delicate hand,
the troubled times that followed the Revolution.
Her quality of mind could understand
the vision and new concepts of the Constitution.

Her friends said change must bring catastrophe:
nonsense to say that unity may expand:
unsound to attempt to join, yet keep states free,
But here it worked! Why not in many a land?

The people doubted if men (whom all might see
were like themselves) could be great enough to plan
a united government with pliancy,
and strength, and liberty for every man.

“Impossible! Utopian dreams,” they cry,
harping on worn-out phrases of negation,
and heaping scorn on seers, they will deny
the increasing urge for a world-wide federation.

Contagious thought will spring from mind to mind:
and Dolly shared a dream with the strong who dare
to heal the wounds of war, and in unity to bind
free peoples, states, and nations everywhere.”

Author note: This poem was written after reading “U.S.W.” by Clement Wood." Let’s Walk Together" received the Volker award, shared with Clement Wood.
Published by Kansas City Poetry Magazine, P.O. Box 14, Kansas City--10 Missouri July 1944

I have vague memories of meeting Lester and Taylor Strawn as a child at the Martin Sherwin Motel and the King Cotton Motel that my Father owned and operated. I remember trips to Asheville to see Grandmother’s sisters. To know that there are many cousins of Strawn, Middlemas, Sheard, Parr, and Perry families that are" kin" and unknown to each of us is sad….Genealogy is one way to bring names together, but not the faces.

Addendum: I personally would have cut those "rascals"
out of the frame. When Strawn sold the frames, they had tried to remove the pictures from the frame. You must remember that each of "the four sisters" are different, seeing things from a different view point. My husband reminded me that I had my window of opportunity to save these pictures when they were in my storage locker. Upon emptying my storage locker, I returned her pictures not realizing she would act so fast on selling them.