This is NOT a Hurry Cane

This relates to a recent Daily Post topic, Pride and Joy, and this is one of mine. My grand old cane has frequently  become my inanimate companion.  I found it in an antique shop, actually years before I even needed it. It felt good in my hand. I loved the intricacies of the carving, and I wondered for whom, by whom, when and where it had been made? Questions I have that just add to its charm.


Well, now I need it as a result of a replaced right knee (which is great), and a bum left knee that isn’t. At 75, my balance on uneven terrain, and the challenge of certain steps has prompted me to take it wherever I go. It makes a terrible racket when it falls on a hard surface, I have to look for a place to put it in a restaurant and I’ve left it in numerous grocery carts – but it’s like a boomerang. it always comes back to hold me up and steady my course.

Unlike the well advertised miracle cane, mine does not fold up in my bag; I can’t magically flip it out as I exit a booth and it doesn’t have a three pronged flexible base. The one attribute of the Hurry Cane that I covet is its ability to stand alone while I shop.

My beautiful old cane has gone to some amazing places with me: great hockey games, the Harvard Museum of Natural History, and my nephew Matt’s graduation from West Point. It’s served me well and receives many compliments on the way –  though hurry, it does NOT.

But neither do I so it suits me just fine.


Molly turns 21 today. Our first grandchild, who has skipped to adulthood in a most exuberant, yet easy, laid back way.

IMG_0216 Bill and I looked forward to her arrival, not knowing whether she would be a he – and of course, like grandparents everywhere, it was love at first sight.

She will graduate from college next year to become an elementary school teacher, carrying on what has become the family profession for three generations, including me and her mom and dad. I have no doubt that she will be a fine one – fun but firm, caring and compassionate, all laced with a healthy dose of common sense.  All attributes she’s had to have as an RA in university dorms for three years, which prompts me to reveal a couple of things and a letter I’ve never shown  her:

March 1, 1956

“Dear Miss Huddleston,

We appreciate your explanation. However, after checking with the head resident again, she pointed out that it was not one incident but rather the general behavior of all of you that prompted their reporting you to this office….I would hope though, if you are admitted to one of the halls next fall, that you will be one of our exemplary students. You will have then a better appreciation for the need for quiet hour schedules when you are trying to get your studies done.

Sincerely yours,

Emily Chervenik

Assistant Dean of Women

How times have changed in liberal Madison,Wisconsin and for that matter, schools everywhere:  In the ’50s, the doors of Elizabether Waters locked at 12:30; failure to be in by then resulted in being ‘campused ‘or not allowed out, on a subsequent weekend . Certainly, no men allowed. Ever. On another occasion, I got a fine for smoking on campus and finally, the one thing that required me to shape up and become an exemplary student – a letter announcing to my parents that my grades placed me on probation.

I’m so proud of Molly for being far more sensible and appreciative of her opportunities than I was at her age, and I credit her mom and dad as well, for stressing the importance of being responsible and accountable. I can say without bias (well, maybe some) Molly is  quite simply a delightful young woman – I know she will be an excellent teacher!


Writing in my Big Chiefs

IMG_1160I grew up loving Big Chief tablets. I still buy them wherever I can find them with the old ones becoming scarce and even expensive. Relics of the past. The new ones, if you can find them, retain some of the old characteristics; the paper is similar in texture, but sadly, the covers are brighter and the image of the Chief has been updated. My best find was an old dime store going out of business, where I bought all they had – a stack with their original yellowed price tags on the back so the covers looked pristine.

Now that I’m blogging, I’m grateful to have the old Chiefs. The smooth newsprint pages with lines just right contain a myriad of ideas,  incomplete sentences with words crossed out and replaced, memories. hopes and dreams – plus all the oddities that fill my head in a day.

If you’re interested,I’ve already written a post About Me in my blog, Chuckysueslastdance – so here I’ll just tell you some of my favorite things in no particular order:

Growing up in the ’50s with parents who loved me, being close to two sisters, a man I adored who gave me two sons and a daughter, 5 happy grandkids and a daughterinlaw I love, friendships I cherish, Labradors under my feet, a knotty pine cabin upnorth on a beautiful lake, fine next door neighbors here and up there, pretty ribbons, books and more books to  read, coffee, wine and chocolate and now – happily growing older.

The thought of being able to put into words all the things I feel, believe and know, inspires me to do more than write in my Big Chiefs- which is the reason Chuckysue looks forward to creating posts she would feel honored to have you read…


The Least Expected Happened

Sixteen years ago, April 10th happened to be Good Friday. It was also the day my husband, Bill, died. Today, April 10th is just an ordinary Thursday and beginning to feel like Spring, but I want to write about that Good Friday anyway.

Every fall when the temperature hovers near freezing, son Gunnar takes the pier out, son Bill drains the pipes and I clean out the fridge. Only three things remain to be done – scatter a few moth balls, turn off gas and electricity – and leave my end of summer note:IMG_1104

Only Bill didn’t return in April that Spring 0f ’98

In May of ’97 we learned that he had colon cancer, followed by three surgeries, a long anticipated November hunting trip to Wyoming with son, Bill, and rounds of chemo when he got back. With only one left, and feeling happily optimistic, he and Bill shared his last weekend fishing on the Mississippi. Gunnar had just come home with the end of hockey season, and a few days later Bill had a massive stroke. In the ER he held my daughter Betsy’s eyes as the doctor explained that the clot buster TRC could possibly reverse the stroke or cause his death. And that, it did.


Life resumes, and every year Spring does arrive in April, but the missing him is always tucked inside all of us.

I look forward now to telling my grandkids how well he lived his 63 years, knowing that someday I’m going to catch up to him and his whole strong self.

My Postscript on Buying Hyacinths….

Somehow the text that went with yesterday’s photo seems to have disappeared into thin air. I’ve made futile attempts to retrieve it, but have come to the conclusion I just screwed it up – so, here is what I said…

I’ve had this verse by Omar Khayyam in my wallet and on my refrigerator for years:

                                                            If of thy slender store two loaves to thee are left,

                                                                         sell one, and with the dole,

                                                                      buy Hyacinths to feed the soul.

I’ve always loved the sentiment, but now that I’m categorized as an elderly golden aged senior citizen, (when just an old broad would suffice), the gist of the verse is more significant. Now I often pause to ask myself, “Do I want it or do I need it?” My answer to myself is invariably, “What you already have, honeygirl, is way more than enough .” Which is not to say I don’t still want it…

My next door neighbor is my Wilson. We can cover the state of the world, best fish fries, and thrift shop treasures on any given day, but recently he suggested a perfect avenue to stock my store. As a result, I’ve rented a space in a local well established  antique mall where I’ve made many interesting new friends. Not only has this encouraged me to clear out some clutter in this old house, I now have a purpose for one of my favorite pastimes here, and upnorth in the summer – exploring flea markets and garage sales. Hot Dam, what fun!

Simply stated, I’m content with my life, and I already have all the things I need to make me happy… my family, my friends, a black Lab, books to read, a purpose – and of course, an occasional Hyacinth to feed my soul.


Just Who Is Chucky Lou and Why The Last Dance ?

I’m always curious to know how other writers  come up with their blog names. Some are simple and direct, clearly defining the focus of interest. Others, like mine, are more ambiguous and the origin requires a bit of history to make any sense, so I introduce you – to Chucky Lou:

If I drive North on Hwy 51 from my cabin for about a half hour, I reach a favorite destination I visit often every summer. Built in 1909, Voss Resort is a landmark on Spider Lake in Manitowish Waters – and just off the highway on a corner of the grounds is Old Settler’s Inn. The old building is home to a quaint coffee shop that serves homemade everything, and a dimly lit bar that’s straight out of Dillinger days and Prohibition. Just inside the front door and to the left, is Chucky Lou’s Last Dance – a small shop filled with antiques, vintage northwoods whimsy, and a lot of fine eclectic stuff. It’s named after Chucky Lou, who is actually a mounted woodchuck dressed in a grass hula skirt with a garland on her head.

I’ve never thought to ask, “Why the Last Dance?” but that too, is meaningful to me – so much so, that I borrowed it for my blog name. I have a framed piece of me and my sisters, Jud and Duff, dressed up as gypsies and dancing. It has this caption by an unknown author:

                                          Sharing a life together is sharing steps in time.

                                                     The music is different for each of us,

                                                          But how beautiful the dance.



And that’s it.  Chuckysueslastdance –  chosen with the belief that my last dance will be just as  beautiful as my first.

* Next time I’ll tell you about buying hyacinths…..




About me:

Surely it can’t be I tell myself, but it’s a fact – I’m 75 !- three quarters of a century, and last summer I stopped coloring my hair. It’s fifty shades of gray now,  and most days I rather like it. I always expected to grow old with the love of my life, but he died sixteen years ago this April on a Good Friday. He was handsome, virile and invincible, or so I thought, until cancer turned everything inside out. Though I truly live in the present, my mind often wanders to the past which I want to write about for my family, so they can know where they came from, the characters that made a difference in my life, and what I feel and believe at this age – though age is irrelevant when it comes to what matters. For six months of the year I reside in my 127 year old Queen Anne Victorian, where we’ve lived for 47 years. I now share it with two younger generations and 3 Labs from November ’til June – and then  Josie, my 15 year old Lab, and I retreat to a small knotty pine cabin on a beautiful lake Up north until it’s too cold to stay there. Kids, relatives and friends come and go, and the sound of slamming screen doors is music to my ears. So is intermittent peace and quiet. Living in the pines is a refuge, and no matter what, it’s my absolute favorite place in the world to be. Following my UW-Madison education and in this order:  I was a Marshall Field sales girl in Chicago, a wife, a mother, an English teacher, a  partner in a small business, an interior designer – and then back to high school working with at-risk kids, where I was fortunate to be able to teach more about living than learning from books. Now retired for ten years, one of my many blessings is watching my five grandkids (ages 21 to 6 ) begin their life journeys – and in all these years, I have but one regret – that they and my Bill didn’t have time to know and love one another. I’ve always been a diary keeper and a closet writer – and I still have a lot I want to say. I hope you’ll find my blog at least interesting, if not fun, to read. And just so you know, I’m Susie; never been Sue – and soon I’ll explain the name of my blog and everything else. If you you choose to follow, please tell me about yourself so I’ll know you too…