Tag Archives: Short story by Linda Claire Groshans

I can travel in time… a short story by Linda Claire Groshans

My superpower is time travel. For several hours every day, I travel back in time. I might spend an hour in the 1990’and then go back to the 1890’s an hour later!  While I am traveling in the past, I stay busy collecting information there and insight to bring back to the present and to share with others. I might spend my time travel in Europe, Colonial America, an Amish farm in PA, Salem, MA during the witch trials in the 1600’s, or even on the Mayflower. 

I build pathways for others to travel back in time too. 

There is a name for the superpower that is used for the many people like me who travel backwards in time. We form a group called genealogists. Ta da…Super Granny Genealogist! That’s me! 

It is a bit odd to come up with a superhero name for myself. I did come up with a name for my website and I was a bit surprised that it was an available choice. It is called Telling Life Stories. Org. The website becomes a door for others to hear the stories of their ancestors. Like a river, we flow from the experiences and stories of our ancestors. It is a gift to know their stories.  

Some people have a hard time finding their ancestors and I try to help those people. My story is humanity’s story and so it is important for me to use my superpower to help others connect to their direct roots.  I am pretty good at my superpower. I have a lot of tools and memberships in ancestral websites that help me. But, my superpower is far from perfect. I often try to find information from the past, but it is elusive. I could not find the birth parents of my friend Beth. I could not find out who Jennie’s grandparents were. I did find records of Jennie’s Japanese mother who had arrived in America as a wartime bride from Japan, but was unable to trace the family further back.

Because there are many people who have my same superpower, there are others who have helped me find my direct ancestors and even photographs of them. Just think how it feels to see a photo for the first time of your 2nd great grandparents. Or, imagine seeing the photo of the farm in France where my children’s great grandparents had lived. 

In January of this year, I traveled to France with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson. We went to the village of Sundhousen to meet a gentleman there who is also a genealogist. We had found out about each other through my website. He found my website while researching his grandparent’s story and it turns out that his great grandmother and my children’s great great grandmother were sisters. Think how it felt to arrive at Gerard and Josette’s French home to spend a weekend delving through the past together. Imagine how it felt to see photos of my children’s ancestors on the wall of the guest room provided to me during my stay. Imagine coming home from that trip with copies of dozens of photos of the Groshans family from France. And best, we met and dined with family we did not even know we had. My 7-year-old grandson was delighted to find out that his family now included this extended family in France. 

I love my superpower. I love sharing my power and helping others gain the power of time travel too. Finding ancestors, hearing their stories, knowing the history and events that faced them are all part of something that we call a tree. A family tree.  

Bunny Paw Prints – a short story by Linda Claire Groshans

photo by Linda Claire

Years ago, on a summer morning, I was sitting at the kitchen table with my mother. She loved doughnuts and I had brought along a box of Tim Horton’s pastries for the visit.  I also had brought cups of black coffee that were aromatic and steaming hot. I felt so grateful for this fine morning and the company of my sweet mother. Afterall, I was sitting in the company of my mother who was also my best friend. 

Mom and I sat together. We didn’t talk much. We spent quite a bit of our time just looking out the large front kitchen window.  She didn’t get outside as much now, but she loved the nature views out her windows.  

“What kind of doughnut do you want?” I asked her as I opened the box to display our choices. 

She gave me her sweet cute coy smile and said, “Oh, you pick one out for me. I like them all. In fact, I might fancy a taste of each one!” 

I was happy. I got up to go over to the cupboards to collect plates, silverware and napkins. I looked over my shoulder and saw her peeking at the doughnuts just like a little girl excited for a special treat. This simple moment, a cup of coffee and a collection of doughnuts to share with my mother. This was a good day.  I clattered the plates a bit on purpose so that she would look over at me. No matter what I did, no matter how old I got, her gazes towards me were always admiring. I knew that I was very loved. 

“I just hope you don’t want a piece of the long john because that is the one, I picked out for myself” I kidded her. Oh, how we both loved to tease. 

“No, I don’t like that type,” she said while looking a dramatically disappointed. 

“Liar!” I said and then I cut her a big bite of the long john along with some other samples. We are both smiling because our little joke had amused us. 

As we began to eat our treat, we looked out her window. 

“Mom, look…look now.” I urged. 

Right there in the middle of the driveway was a bunny. The morning light was misty, the grass beside the drive was full of dew and a bunny had arrived for our entertainment. The bunny who was obliviously content to sit on the cement driveway of all places! 

“Mom, do you see that bunny?” 

“Yes,” she replied. “It comes here quite often about this time of day.” 

We both sipped our coffees and continued to watch the bunny who now appeared to be frozen in place at one spot in the very center of the driveway. Then, just like that, it hopped away. Gone. 

“Mom, look! It left little wet pawprints on the driveway. He must have been on the wet grass before hopping here.” I was so taken by the visual image of those little dew prints that the bunny had left behind. 

And then in just seconds, I said: “Mom, the pawprints are disappearing!” I felt disappointment for the end of that fleeting scene. 

“The doughnuts are disappearing too.” she coyly stated and smiled at our plates. 

“No Mom, not the doughnuts, the pawprints. They are almost gone they are disappearing so quickly!” I wanted to express how things can disappear, how special moments shared can end too quickly.

The sun was getting brighter and filtering light across the grass and the drive. The sun was erasing the little bunny pawprints. It had also started to dry the dew drops on the grass.  

“The sun erased the prints.” My mother said gently. She reached out to touch my arm and continued talking, “Prints don’t last long, the sun erases them.”  

I continued sipping my coffee as her words played in my mind. My mother was a wise woman. “The prints don’t last long; they are erased by the sun.” 

She is right. Prints don’t last long.

Even the prints in our lives that are our sad mishaps don’t last long. In fact, in the scheme of life, all the prints or moments are fleeting.  

I got up and squinted out the window looking again at the concrete which was now dry and full of dappled sun patterns. The day was turning out to be fine. The birds were starting a morning concert. Our coffee was gone.  

“I love you.” I said as I hugged her before leaving. “Want to have a picnic soon, we could ask everyone over?” I asked her, but I already knew that she would be thrilled.

I got into my Jeep to leave, and as I drove past her front door, I could see her standing there and waving at me. She always tried to make each moment together last.

On my drive home, I thought about how the sun had illuminated the day. I thought about how delicate those little paw prints looked and mostly I thought about how precious my aging mother was to me. 

Years have gone by since she passed away. Every day, she is in my heart and mind. Her gentle nature and joy for the little things and her unwavering love for family. She was and will always be my hero. 

Take A Hike…a short story by Linda Claire Groshans

Take a Hike

photo by Linda Claire

It was 1995 and an anti-depressant called Prozac was becoming a commonly used drug. I wanted some. My friends had it, and I needed it too. Afterall, the stress of my on-going divorce while also facing single parenting, handling my spiraling financial concerns, and knowing that I would need to return to the workplace, it was all too much. I was depressed and I wanted to take the pill that would make it go away. No problem, I just needed to go to my primary care doctor. Certainly, he would understand pain and give me some Prozac and maybe some Valium too. I needed my pain to go away. I wanted to stop thinking about losing my marriage, I wanted to stop thinking about my husband every minute. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to go on with life and clearly all those scientists in pharma laboratories had come up with a solution that I needed.

I arrived at Dr. T’s office on a Monday morning. I was guided to the exam room where a nurse took my blood pressure, weight and temperature and recorded the results. There was clearly no test for a broken heart, a failed marriage.

After a brief wait, there was a knock on the exam room door and Dr. T entered with a pleasant smile on his face.  Since I wanted to be convincing about needing the pills, I certainly could not smile back.  It all hurt, so I used a little bit of my drama training and my real pain and twisted my facial expression to one of horrible agony.

“So, what’s going on?” Dr T asked.

I guess my answer spanned several minutes. Afterall, I had been rehearsing this moment for a few days. My voice ended by saying, “So, I must have the pill that makes this all stop.”

“There”, I thought. And I waited for him to type up the pharmacy order. This would be the day that the pain would start to ease.

“Why is he still sitting there?” I asked myself. Dr. T. was reaching for my hand and patting it gently while he leaned forward on his stool.

The moments ticked away. “Come on, get on with it” I thought as I tried to will him to give me the cure.

Yes, “Dr., Dr., give me a cure, I have a bad case of lovin’ him”

Still nothing. The room was silent. I hurt, I really hurt and without using any drama I started to cry softly. The tears dripped down my face and I looked for something to wipe my nose. None of this was funny. My life was a wreck and I could not cope.

That is when he started talking again. “Claire, you need to get out in nature.” He said and he looked compassionate.

“Buddy,” I thought to myself. My unspoken voice continued my response to him silently “I don’t need nature, I told you that I need pills.”

“Take a hike, cut the grass, garden and just be outside in nature.” He said.

My mouth dropped open, it was beginning to appear that the pain was going to continue and would probably last forever.

“I’m paying you”, I thought to myself. “Give me the darn pills. I hurt” I wanted to scream, but I kept quiet.  Did he tell me to take a hike? That was about the same verbiage my husband had used.

I left the appointment with nothing more than some half-baked idea that going out into nature would release me from my agony.

I guess it was a couple days later that I decided to weed a flower bed. I kneeled on the ground and I cried. I cried so loudly that my neighbor came running over. “Dear, what is the matter?” she asked.

“I don’t know which ones are the weeds. I don’t even know how to garden.”

“Oh, that is simple” she replied. “The weeds are any of those plants that you don’t like.”

Then softly, she continued talking to me and then asked me a question,  “Hey, I am going for a little hike around the block, want to come with me?”

I wiped my tears and pulled myself up. “Yeah, I would like that.” I said.

The healing had started…

Firsts a list by Linda Claire Groshans

There have been so many firsts in my life. I will name a few in a somewhat random order…
First day of Kindergarten
First lost tooth
First time riding a 2 wheel bike
First kiss
First menstrual period
First love
First time having sex
First child
First grandchild
So many firsts and all of them stand out as so memorable and as markers for passing into new eras of
my life. They were moments to be cherished for so many reasons. They make up my whole life of
Now, I have an unexpected first. And, I am sharing this first with every person in this world.
Together, we are going through our first pandemic. We have ventured into a new era. We would give
anything to wish this away. But, we are caught in a war of sorts and we may never be the same. Fear,
anxiety, worry, sadness, loss of control. These are markers of this first in our lives.
I see goodness and heroism often these days and I feel love for these moments. I also see frustrations
and broken systems and I grieve. Oh, how I grieve.
We are separated from those we love. This is a horrible new reality. The ache I have for my loved ones is
powerful, but more than any feeling I have is my desire for them to shelter and stay safe.
Dear friends, we are in this first together. I wish you all to be safe. I care so deeply.
I am still trying to figure out how to navigate this experience. How to hold my heart in one piece…
When will the healing come? Please let the healing come.
I will continue to send powerful expressions of my love to all. I know you do the same.

Claire’s response – a short story by Linda Claire Groshans

Claire’s son had been involved through out his middle school years in the boy scouts. His troop was known for many fine things including their great overnight trips and adventures. The troop was also known for their amazing annual Christmas party which was hosted by a married couple who were also troop adult volunteers. Every December, this husband and wife offered an extravagant party complete with soda fountains, ice-cream cones, and jukebox games and this was all done as their generous way to support the troop. Claire would have recognized those leaders had she bumped into them somewhere. After all, she had dropped her son off at the weekly meetings many times, but she had not stayed to attend those meetings and didn’t really know this couple or the other scout parents. This was because Claire had been happy when her ex-husband agreed to take the lead on being with their son at the boy scout meetings and overnights. It gave Claire a moment of time every week to re-gather from her busy single working mom life. Actually, she usually spent the time on those Tuesday evenings doing grocery shopping. This was also a special time for her son to share with his father.

Well, it was December 2003, and the annual Christmas party was almost here and it was the big buzz in the boy scout troop. Claire’s ex-husband called to say that he had a conflict the evening of the party. He could drop their son off at the party house, but could not stay. No problem, in fact, Claire was really quite curious about seeing this party for herself. She was always socially at ease and wanted to put names to some of the faces she had heard about during the year. This would be fun.

Claire put on a rather nice outfit and checked her clock for the time and then she checked the address as she prepared to leave from her home. Her plan was to find the home and then rendezvous inside with her son at the party. Her ex had already explained that he would just be dropping their son off at the party home.  Claire did not want to be late, but she also did not want to be one of the first guests to arrive. She purposely left about 15 minutes past the time she normally would have allowed. She drove to the correct neighborhood and instantly spotted a house surrounded by many cars with all the Christmas lights beaming from the yard and the inside the home illuminated through every window.

Claire walked up the sidewalk to the entry and found the door open. She entered. “What the heck?” Claire said to herself when she entered the home. “Ding-dong. This place is over-the-top,” she continued talking silently to herself. “Oh man, this is amazing.” The furniture and artwork were almost jaw dropping.

Almost immediately, she was welcomed by a uniformed waiter providing formal butler style tray service with a full variety of canapes. But, it seemed that there were no children at the party. “Now, that’s a bit odd,” she thought. She asked one of the couples sitting there where the children all were. “Oh, on the lower level with planned supervision provided” they informed her. “They have their own special foods downstairs too.”

“WHAT?” the next thing Claire noticed was a full open bar with an obviously experienced and uniformed bartender. No wonder everyone had exclaimed about this annual event. When she approached the bar, she noticed that the liquor choices were all top shelf. She ordered a Manhattan with extra cherries. What a treat!

Claire made her way over to a sofa where some other folks were laughing and enjoying the evening. A grand piano was in the room and soon, an accomplished pianist arrived to play Christmas carols softly in the background.

Claire was determined to give the boy scout meetings more attention in her future! No wonder her ex was always so willing to be a part of this organization.

Eventually, Claire wanted to check on her son. She made her way to the lower level of the home. The basement, like the rest of the house was all decked out and even had a full movie theater set-up. But, the children were not the right age. They were much younger.

“Something is not right,” she thought. Claire went back upstairs. She made her way over to a friendly looking woman and asked, “Where are the boy scouts? I went down stairs, but I could not find them.” The woman looked at her as if she had said something ridiculously funny. “The what?” the woman finally replied. Claire raised her voice over the din of the many on-going conversations. “I’m looking for my son, he is in the troop.”

“I’m sorry,” the lady started out saying “I don’t really know what you are saying, what troop?”

“The boy scout troop, of course.” Claire now looked at the woman as if she was ridiculous. “After all, this is the boy scout holiday party!” Claire said.

The woman now seemed nervous, “This is the party for all those who donated to the local art center.”

Claire’s response…What was Claire’s response. The room was tilting. What was her response…Fear? Embarrassment? Self-recrimination? No time to think about anything. Claire’s response would be the simple flight mechanism.

She ran out of there and fast!

A complete fear that she had made some horrible wrong problem with the address entered her mind. Her hands were shaking as she opened her purse and pulled out her hand-written note with the address printed on it. The street name was correct. “Oh NO…the house numbers were different.” “Is that why there were so many cars on the street?”

With total stealth like moves Claire walked across the street and opened the door to the correct house.

“Your son was starting to get worried about you,” a kind woman said upon seeing Claire. “I hope everything is OK?” the woman continued.

Claire looked around the house. It was nice too. There were several open pizza boxes on the counter along with a selection of bottled waters and soda pops. No canapes. No open bar, just the happy noises of middle school boys coming up from the lower level.

Claire’s response? “Well, it will be my little secret” she told herself. Never will this be spoken of, she thought.

Claire then sat down at the Boy Scout party holding her water bottle and chatted with the other parents. It was perfect. Her son came through the room and gave her a high five before running off to be with his friends again. The evening was saved.

P.S. Claire spent some time in January deciding if she could be a donor to the local art center…after all, she didn’t want to miss that event in her future!

The perfect marriage – a short story by Linda Claire Groshans

Claire looked at her calendar and smiled to think that tomorrow, February 14, 2025 would be the first anniversary of her successful marriage to Henry.

Claire had been divorced from her 1st husband for nearly 30 years when she had been introduced to Henry. That first meeting was memorable. They were both head over heels for each other. Henry had never been married and had no children. And, Henry was much younger than Claire. What they had was a remarkable December/May romance. The age difference was of no concern to Henry. He was devoted to Claire in a way that no other had ever been.

Henry was also a very beautiful man. A very striking tall, lanky, man with piercing blue eyes. He was a smart dresser and a very tidy guy.

People might have talked more about the big age difference and they might have gossiped more about Claire’s rush into the marriage in her 70th year of life, but as the first year of their marriage was closing, no one could find fault in Claire and Henry’s choice to be a couple. Besides, their friends loved being with them to share dinner, wine and witty conversations.

Claire did not care much for cooking, but Henry planned the meals with attention to Claire’s health needs and everyone always complimented him on the tasty elaborate dinner parties they hosted.

Their marriage was remarkable and happy. Henry devoted himself to Claire. In fact, Henry was good at anticipating Claire’s every need. Every day, he wanted to know if there was any item at all that she would like to add to the “honey-do” fix it list. Even when Claire suggested that the bathtub could be polished and the spice cupboard organized, Henry obliged with a smile while doing expert work.

Claire was obsessed with watching old WWII movies. No problem. Henry started spending quite a bit of time researching more series and films that might interest her. He never once asked to watch a football game, or any other sports show.

Claire’s friend Vicky had called just a couple of days ago and told her that Henry was a “dreamboat.” “Yes”, Claire had replied, “he is the man of my dreams. And, it is funny that you should call him a dreamboat, because I have planned a luxury cruise for our anniversary. We will be leaving soon for the month.”

Vicky asked if they were packed yet. Claire laughed and said, “Vicky, Henry packed everything and it is completely organized. I don’t think he missed a thing. He even fit my pillow into the suitcase because he knows how much I like it.”

“Are you worried about anything going on a cruise for that long?” Vicky asked Claire.

Claire’s face saddened, and even though she did not tell Vicky her thoughts, there was something very concerning to Claire about the cruise and the fact that they would be porting in foreign locations.

You see, Claire was the only one of her entire group of acquaintances that knew that Henry was a bot. Yes, a robot. She just hoped that there would be no issues bringing Henry with her without him having a citizenship certificate. She just hoped that his manufacturing certificate and her purchase receipt for him would suffice. After all, she thought, we never really know if other couples on board will both be human and who are we to judge.

The end.

Acts of Kindness a short story by Linda Claire

I was asked if I could write about acts of kindness.

Sure. Easy! After all my life was filled to overflowing with so many stories of the kindnesses that had been displayed to me throughout the years from child to senior citizen. Having experienced so many acts of kindness was a truly humbling thought. It took my breath away to realize this was an immeasurable number of kindness acts that had been intended for ME. Yes, I was the focus of those acts and it struck me with a reverent awe.

In fact, as I sat down with my writing journal, examples of kindness stories popped into my mind one after another until there was no way for me to sort them out properly to write about. It was frankly almost dizzying. I let the memories come and go through my mind as I sat in wonderment. But, I am a person who likes to get a job done, and I needed a logical way to approach and describe all of those many acts.

Well, remember the old rolodex holders? The ones that were BIG and round and you could use a side knob to flip from card to card. I decided to make a sort of rolodex in my head and just let the memories continue to stream into my consciousness. Each memory would simply be placed on one of the rolodex cards in my mind. I decided that I would pick just one card to write about. Otherwise, I had no way to express the life long examples of all these beautiful gifts that had come my way. Yes, one act of kindness, is a big story all on it’s own.

I stopped and pondered several of these memory cards and then settled on one to share. It was not the biggest kindness, or even one I had thought of in over a decade. But, it was a kindness that had surprised me. And with that introduction, let me begin the story of an act of kindness.

The year was 2010 and I had just finished a long work day. Even when you love your job, there is a form of intense life energy that work requires of you. So, there I was getting ready to face the rush hour traffic along Michigan Avenue. My car would make it’s way along with large trucks, gravel trains and a myriad of other drivers. The wait time at each light would be long. And, this being real life, there were several stops that I still had to make on my way home from work. I had to go to the Farm Supply store to buy the 50 lb. bags of dog food that my German short hairs liked and would be waiting for. I had to stop at the grocery for food that I liked.

It was almost 6:00pm. I would get home by 7:00pm and then I would still need to do food preparation and cook dinner. As I thought about the routine of my working person life, I saw the bright neon sign approaching along my path. McDonald’s. O.K., I am not proud that this was my option for that evening. But I was hungry, I was tired and I still had a lot to do once I arrived home. It was a choice and it was the choice that I made.

Like so many others, I joined a long line weaving to the microphone where I would place my order. I believe there were about 6 or 7 cars in front of me. Each car seemed to be held up at the food window for several minutes. I started doing math and I don’t even like doing math. 7 cars x 3 minutes per car = my being at the food window in 21 minutes.

I scolded myself. Now I had placed my order, I was in this ridiculous line and I still had so much to do. What a waste of money and time. I was getting ticked off at myself for this choice of “fast food”. If only I was a more organized perfect person, I would have found some better option.

I don’t know what look I had on my face. I don’t think my thoughts can show through to other strangers. Surely, I was the only person knowing how upset I was getting. And, not so upset by the wait, but by my lack of forethought.

Finally, the line of cars inched forward and after a long time my “fast food” was being handed to me out the window. “Thank you,” I said to the employee at the window. “Oh wait, I didn’t pay yet.” I said while grabbing my debit card to hand over to her.

“It is paid for.” she said.

“No” I corrected her. “I did not pay yet.”

“The car in front of you paid for your order.” she explained.

Wait, that old Toyota in front of me had paid for my order? What? Why?

“Why?” I asked the employee.

“They said to tell you that you just received a random act of kindness.”

It was so strange to me. I knew it was a Toyota in front of me. It wasn’t even a new model. Who would do this for a stranger? I actually had money to pay for my order, had I looked so troubled in my car? Had they planned this? Why me?

That McDonald’s dinner became a precious meal to me. A stranger did something just because it was kind. They actually truly extended themselves to be kind to me.

I drove off from McDonald’s to do my errands and then I drove home and hauled in the dog food. Mr. Misto and Lady Latte provided their happy dog excitement about seeing me.

“Pinch me” I thought. My free dinner was just the coolest thing. A random act of kindness had come my way and I became a better person for that.

Claire’s Closets by Linda Claire Groshans

Claire’s Closets

She had put off going through her closet for over a year. Even today, she started only by opening the doors to the closet that spanned the entire length of one of the bedroom walls. With the closet doors open and the project at task in plain view, Claire sat down on her bed to “think” through the process.

Her mind wandered back in time to other closet reorganizations. She smiled to remember the boyfriend who had asked, “You’ve got so many clothes. Have you ever considered moving your bed into the closet and using the bedroom to store your clothes and shoes?” Obviously, he had been joking. Or, had he?

She tried to think back to being married. It was so long ago now. Had it really been 24 years ago that it all fell apart? Back then, she had to share a closet. Memories of closet with a his-side and her-side made her feel once again the sadness of a failed marriage. She remembered having to pack all of his clothing for him to take off to a new house with a new woman already in his life. It was a sad time. Claire had a memory of hugging his favorite t-shirts as she packed them. She pulled them towards her chest and fell on her knees. It reminded her of all that old pain.

Ah, it was happier to think of being a mother and helping her children organize their closets. She had made a system that worked well. Her daughter or her son would sit in a chair facing Claire and their closet. Claire would take items out one by one and hold them up waiting for her child to give a thumbs up or thumbs down. All of the unwanted clothes were recycled at the thrift stores. Some of the clothing brought laughter because it was associated with being out of date or had some other hysterical memory attached.

Even during the sad days of Claire’s divorce and healing, she easily seemed to take over the his-side of the closet. Clearly a perk of being single is more closet space. After all, now she was dating and starting a new job. Both of these were activities that needed dedicated closet space for the specific type of outfits she wanted to own. The dating clothing and work clothing were of a very different sort. Dating included some sexy low cut tops and work required a more modest skirt and sweater type look.

She had seen a therapist back then. The therapist had encouraged Claire to take on a persona he called “Mary-Lou.” This persona would be a woman who was so confident in herself that she would say encouraging things to herself before going on a date. A classic Mary Lou statement might be something like, “if a man spends 5 minutes with me, that will be the best 5 minutes of his evening.” It sounds so ridiculous now, but back then, it gave Claire the courage to be a bit daring in her wardrobe and lip stick choices. The therapist said that the Mary Lou persona would stop worrying about what others thought about her and worry about whether she would like them. So Claire used to go out like a female warrior on her dates. Now, many years had gone by and Claire no longer wanted to be a Mary Lou. Claire was now finally comfortable with being herself. No more need to bat the eyes and do the head bobs. Once you get old enough, some of the past is just completely embarrassing.

Claire looked at her closet again. She noticed that now that she had become a grandmother her life felt completely fulfilled.

These days the closet had no low cut tops anymore. She started laughing to remember her friend Heidi calling from a cell phone while she was on her way to a blind match.com date. Heidi had spent over an hour getting all “dolled-up.” Heidi told Claire that she had applied heavy make-up, a flashy outfit, and even a hair extension to capture the attention of her date. Claire asked Heidi how she looked. Heidi replied, “so, basically, I think I now look like a Grandma clown who is wearing too much makeup and trying too hard!”

Claire was helpless with laughter. Once again, she felt so happy to have friends that shared with her. There had been a time for certain alluring clothing, but now, Claire wanted to make sure not to have any part of a Grandma clown routine. Now, clothing could be for comfort. Look neat, look clean, look cozy.

Claire snapped out of her day-dreaming and looked at the closet and the project at hand. She was amazed by something. What got her attention now were all of the clothes with a what-if story. They had only been purchased based on possible scenarios. For example, Claire would say to herself, “what if I get invited to a wedding”, or “what if I need a special dress for the art gallery.” There were also tops that still had the price tag attached because they were so special she dared not to wear them for fear of spilling wine down the front of the embroidered lace blouse.

So, here is the dilemma that Claire had to answer. Should she keep what-if’s and too nice to wear items? Should she just be bold and wear them anyway, should she pack them for some lucky woman to find at the thrift shop? Should she just live or should she keep waiting?

She is still making up her mind. And, while she is making up her mind, it seems best to put the closet reorganization on hold again.



It was a Monday and the squirrel detectives were spending their morning chattering together and reviewing their Summer detective accomplishments. Just in the month of August alone, the squirrel detectives had solved two very critical cases at the city park. The squirrels wanted their contributions in these solved mysteries to remain anonymous. They didn’t do detective work for the admiration of others, they just wanted to be good detectives. Summer was now coming to a close, the squirrels chattered among themselves remembering each case from the summer months and how they had had cleverly solved them. Their excited squirrel voices made loud happy chirping sounds throughout the park and their bushy tails waved up and down.

First there had been mission #1: A woman named Leslie had carelessly lost her heirloom heart-shaped locket. The locket had been a special gift from her Grandmother. The squirrels had to grab the locket by it’s silver chain, scamper up to the tree tops with it, and then they had to keep dropping the necklace carefully down into obvious spots along the path that Leslie was taking (and I must note that she was headed in the completely opposite direction of where the locket had been lost). It only took the two necklace drops before Leslie noticed it. She had a strange sense that it had fallen from a tree, but then decided that conclusion must simply be her nerves talking. Leslie then also made the false assumption that she had located the locket on her own merits without any assistance. The squirrel’s mission had been accomplished!

and then after mission #1 there was

mission #2: A man named Bob McIntyre lost his i-phone at the park and the squirrels watched him drive away without noticing that he had left it on a picnic table under the park shelter. Fortunately, Bob McIntyre had the lamest pass code for his phone. The squirrels simply tried the combination 1-2-3-4 and they were “in”. They noticed that Bob’s i-phone had several apps. They first tried the Google translate app , but translations from squirrel chatter to English were not available. So, the squirrels took some selfies using Bob’s Snapchat app. It was super fun for them to use the goofy filters that made their faces look so adorable and laugh-out-loud funny. The squirrel detectives even added some eye-glass stickers to their cute squirrel faces. Bob’s friends saw that he had posted hilarious squirrel photos on his Snapchat feed with hashtags such as #Squirrel-Strong, #Squirrel-Detectives, and #Squirrels- For-Nature-Conservancy. And Bob’s friends, who had always thought Bob to be a bit too stuffy and very serious, were now completely delighted and amused that he had suddenly become very funny.

The squirrels had the idea to post photos on Bob’s Facebook feed of the picnic table under the shelter where they planned to leave the phone for Bob. Bob McIntyre saw this on his home laptop and was therefore able to find his phone easily the next morning. He was a bit dismayed that there was no message or note for him near the phone. He still wonders about this.

Before the squirrels had put Bob’s phone down on the picnic table for him to find, they had taken the time to look at Bob’s profile photos on his Facebook feed. There were only a few photos of Bob from the whole summer. In each of those photos, Bob was always alone and wearing an old gray rumpled t-shirt that had no design or pattern. He also wore over-sized wrinkled cargo shorts and flip-flops. Bob was an o.k. looking guy, but he was not smiling in any of those photos. There were simply no happy summer photos of Bob.

The squirrels wanted to complete one more mission before the end of summer.

And so there was mission #3:

Basically, the squirrels wanted to do some match-making and they saw Leslie and Bob as a likely couple. However, the squirrels didn’t really need to do much to make this happen. You see, both Leslie and Bob had such pleasant times at the city park, that they both started walking there nearly every day. One day, Bob worked up his courage and complimented Leslie on her locket. She told him about how it had been nearly lost at the park and then found. So, Bob shared the story about his i-phone’s return to him under strange circumstances. They became friends.

On the first day of Autumn, the squirrels noticed that Bob was back at the park. He was wearing a new green Nature Conservancy t-shirt, some crisp blue jeans and great looking adidas hiking shoes. The most important thing that Bob was wearing was a smile. Why was Bob so happy? Because Bob was walking with his new friend Leslie (and yes, she was wearing her locket). Bob and Leslie were enjoying the crisp Autumn air, they were holding hands and they stopped three times to use the Snapchat app on Bob’s i-phone to do some funny selfies. Their hashtag was #Autumn-For-New-Friends. Then, Bob and Leslie whispered and smiled at each other and also posted #City-Park-Squirrels-Are-So -Cute. They were excited and happy about all the adventures that awaited them.

They didn’t even notice all of the squirrels just overhead of them doing high-fives, cartwheels, and grinning from ear to ear. It was Autumn and love was in the air. #Nature-Conservancy-Detective-Squirrels-And-Matchmakers.



The photo above was taken by Robert and Gretchen Hess in 1965