Susan Sleggs

Reflective observations to inspire conversation

A Writer’s Best Friend

When an author rereads their own work, one thing they are looking to edit is the use of the same word too many times. Here’s an example by Shaun Kearney, ESL teacher:

It’s a fair bet that if it’s fair tomorrow, then my fair haired wife and I will head to the Spring Fair, which is held in a fair sized park, in this fair city of ours and we may win a prize in a competition if everyone else plays fair.
Continue reading “A Writer’s Best Friend”

Remembering High School Graduation

High School Graduation: Times Past

Was high school graduation a big event for you or did it pass unnoticed. As a city baby boomer high school graduation was not an event that my school, at least, made much of a fuss about. I believe that this may have well have changed with different generations and certainly by geography. I know from the American television shows (Gidget, Happy Days and numerous movies) that in the States high school graduation was quite different to what mine was.

My memoir:

Baby Boomer, rural central school in western New York state, graduation 1971

A central school in the sates means it services multiple towns. I attended K – 12 in the same sprawling building with essentially the same 60 students all 13 years. There was a Catholic school that fed us about ten students at the start of seventh grade. We not only knew each other, we knew the whole family and pets too.

Up until my junior year I was one of the popular kids and included in their activities. My mother had gotten sick during my freshman year and my grades fell so my senior year I was in classes with students I knew, but had never been close with. Mom died November of my senior year and that distanced me further from the “crowd.” I recently talked to a high school classmate, first time in 45 years, and she told me, “We didn’t know what to say, so we didn’t talk to you.” It’s nice to know, finally, it wasn’t all me. I’m really glad there are now grief counselors and people talk about death and it’s repercussions.

Graduation itself was cap and gown with Sunday best underneath. Each student was limited to five tickets because of the size of the auditorium. People with large families had a problem with that. My father, who until my mother’s death had rarely attended anything to do with school, was there, along with my Aunt, my older sister and her boyfriend, and my boyfriend. Dad reached in his suit pocket and pulled out his reading glasses that we had been searching the house for on a daily basis. We had a good laugh, the last time he had worn his suit was at mother’s funeral. He probably said something like, “Guess I should dress more often.”

I received a $200.00 award for having the highest average of a student entering a near-by two-year college. A couple of my fellow male students kidded me they would have done more homework if they had known there was money to be had. It felt good to be ahead of them for once.

My guests and I went back to my aunts to cut a celebratory cake and that was that.


PTSD Personified – Flash Fiction

January 11: Flash Fiction Challenge

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about wet ink. It can be artistic, writerly or something completely off-the-wall. Go where the prompt leads.

“Doc, my family feared I would die shortly after the ink was dry on my enlistment papers. Now I’ve made it back home without a visible wound they want me to tell them what my days were like: what I ate, what I saw, if I met any nice girls. They have no idea all the Army wanted from me was a body count. Having done what I was expected to do in order to survive, now I am dead inside. I’m afraid to go to sleep at night because of the nightmares and ashamed I made it home.”

Unexpected News – Flash Fiction

January 11, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about wet ink. It can be artistic, writerly or something completely off-the-wall. Go where the prompt leads.

My offering follows:

With great excitement and anticipation I opened my son’s first letter since he had joined the Air Force. I expected personal news and an address. I got the opposite.

“I’m sure you don’t know, Dad told me to never come home again for enlisting without his blessing. I don’t think it’s safe to give you any contact information because he will force you to choose between him and me. I’m sorry.”

My sudden tears wet the ink. I realized any letters would have to be kept secret and I didn’t know if I would ever see my son again.


        Have you ever noticed how many times the heroine in a romance novel is a green-eyed red-head?  I think that happens because there aren’t that many of them so they are a novelty. They always seem to have a feisty attitude and are beautiful. I’m not sure if that has anything with their gene pool or the author’s fantasy. Continue reading “Red-Heads”

Made From Milk

I was recently in a friend’s home and we got on the subject of milk. Her comment, with a bit of a snobbish air, was, “Milk is only for babies. No adult should drink it because of how it is digested.” I didn’t know the explanation of  “how” so didn’t argue. I did have a private chuckle when she informed me we were having pizza for lunch with a healthy fruit and yogurt salad. I thought, “Do you know what pizza cheese and yogurt are made from?” I’m still wondering why eating a milk food product is different from drinking the base item because I was afraid to ask. Maybe I’ll bring up the subject another time, in another way, to see if I can get an explanation, perhaps next summer when I invite her for a drive to get ice cream. Continue reading “Made From Milk”

Put On a Sweater

The National Day of Calendar has a long list of common sense things you can do to cut energy costs; turn down the thermostat, use a crock pot instead of the oven, install modern lightbulbs, replace old windows or furnace, take shorter showers, carpool, etc. Continue reading “Put On a Sweater”

A New Puppy – Flash Fiction

“Is it time for a new dog?”

“No! Maybe. Sandy was such a good girl how can I replace her so soon?”

“Because a pet is a companion. Maybe a different color or breed.”

“Has to be a cocker spaniel, but another color is intriguing.”

I went to meet a litter that was almost ready at the breeders.

“The mom’s name is Fancy. She’s from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.”

“Looks like she got dyed in the copper mines there.”

“Yes. We named her daughter, Miss Revere, like the pans.”

“I could call her Revi; sounds more doggish. Consider her sold.” Continue reading “A New Puppy – Flash Fiction”

Bird Snob

If you have ever wondered if I have a decorating theme in my house; the answer would be birds. But I’m a bird snob in that all of my birds are western New York state back yard songbirds and a few ducks thrown in for good measure. I have never counted how many different bird “things” I have in the house, but it’s a lot. I say things, because I have photographs, prints, placemats, a shower curtain, needlepoint, bells, figurines, painted eggs, feeders, a thermometer, a clock, window stickers, wall paper, books and one 3-D piece of owls done by Kurt Feurerherm that I paid a handsome price for. You can google his name if you’re interested.

Another part of my snobbishness includes the birds I own must be size proportionate to their natural state and the correct color. My grandson and I were together in a garden store recently and he pointed out a cute ceramic log with birds sitting on it. He looked at it a few seconds and said, “The gold finch is the same size as the cardinal, that isn’t right.” And I replied, “That’s why it isn’t good enough to add to my collection.” The color thing comes into play when I am in a fabric shop. My “girlies” will point out a new bird fabric we haven’t seen before thinking they have found me a treasure, then be a tad miffed when I say the birds aren’t the right color to be authentic, or they won’t be birds I see in my own back yard. Like flamingoes; they are not a New York bird, I don’t have any.

I must admit most of my inside birds are the same ones that visit my outside feeders on a daily basis. It’s fun to watch the different species as they vie for a spot to eat. Unfortunately the piggy sparrows get most of the food because they are the boldest, except for the blue jays. They announce their arrival and chase everyone else away. The titmouse and cardinals are my favorite because of their color and manners. We have four types of woodpeckers and I can attest to the fact the female downies are little bitches. They don’t like to share.

When you feed the birds outside, squirrels are a natural by-product. I took this picture yesterday and titled it “Footprints in the Snow.” We have no dog, nor kids; all the footprints are our resident squirrels and birds. It’s so cold today I felt sorry for them and put a tray of seed on the top step. It was empty in just over an hour but the doves and squirrels got the biggest portion. I’ll probably do it again tomorrow because the temp is near zero and the wind is a blowin’.

squirrel foorprints


I saw a written question on Facebook last week that has had me thinking ever since. The question was; who inspired you in 2017? More than one name came immediately to mind. I must put my husband first because he regularly makes the comment, “If you want to do it and it will help you attain a goal, then spend the money (for a class or a service.)” His giving me the freedom to expand my horizons has opened so many new doors for me. Continue reading “Inspirations”

According to the National Day of Calendar many people receive fruitcakes as gifts sometime during the holiday season. Some people eat the holiday bread. Others may re-gift them. There are those who sneakily throw them away and others who will do so openly. But on the third day of January, another type of fruitcake, ahem, person comes out of the woodwork.  These are the characters who have hoarded them, stored them and hid them so they can celebrate National Fruitcake Toss Day. The idea being, see how far you can throw one of the hard disks. Continue reading

Star Wars Anyone

When I was a kid, our science fiction on television was a show called “The Twilight Zone” hosted by Rod Serling. The stories were usually a little spooky and left me wondering if something that had just been shown could actually happen. Mr. Serling’s voice added to the suspense and wonderment. Episodes are available on Netflix and your computer if you want to check them out. Continue reading “Star Wars Anyone”

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