Sue Spitulnik

Creative Lady



Trees in My Life – memoir

Irene Waters asked writers to share memoir about trees. Following is the link if you want to join the fun. She asks for our generation and location so we can compare differences.

Trees: Times Past

Baby Boomer from rural western New York State.
Currently I look out our family room window and delight at the action of many different kinds of birds that visit the feeders. The Niger seeds and suet hang from a crabapple tree. There is a “fake tree” everyone perches on made from large branches stuck into the hole in a patio table (where the umbrella would go) and a large cedar that wiggles constantly because there are so many sparrows and other birds perched in/on it. Keeping the feeders full is a daily job, but the entertainment is worth every penny the seed costs.
In the 1950’s and 60’s my parents owned an acre of pine trees that my grandfather had planted to sell for Christmas trees. As the youngest of four girls I can remember going “out to the woods” to cut our Christmas tree. They were not trimmed like today so looked a bit scraggly and were soon to big to be used. Then the trees became the play area for the town children. Both boys and girls had separate forts. Our mother’s would scold us for getting pine pitch on our clothes.
From my sister Paula… “I think Tilley (our cat) would spy on me when I climbed trees and checked on bird nests. Then they would get robbed!!
Joanne and I played, for hours, out in the back left corner. There was a pussy willow tree there we cut branches from each year.
I knew the whole area very well and ventured farther out back, across fields (don’t know who owned them) and on into Uncle Louie’s woods where he had an old sugar shack. On one of my walks I saw a beautiful Snowy Owl. Dee (Our dachshund) would go with me and dig up baby mice and voles, and eat them!
One warm afternoon, Joanne came looking for me and asked, ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT HERE?’ I was lying on the ground, watching the clouds float by and listening to birds and bugs singing…… near a pile of fence row trees that had been bulldozed up to make more space for growing crops. Dee loved snooping all through the brush and would chase rabbits, howling as they scooted away, because she couldn’t keep up.”
Trees have always been an important part of my life, like good friends.
Thank you Irene for the walk down memory lane.

Protect Your Ears

After a day of ice skating in the cold, 15-year-old Chester Greenwood came up with an idea to keep his big ears warm. Partnering with his grandmother who sewed tufts of fur between loops of wire, Chester soon had a working model of earmuffs. On March 13, 1877, he was awarded a patent. He was a prolific inventor, but this is the invention he is most known for. For almost 60 years, Greenwood manufactured these ear protectors, which provided jobs for the people in the Farmington, Maine area which is now known as the “Earmuff Capital of the World.” [courtesy National Day of Calendar] Continue reading “Protect Your Ears”

Be a Tree Hugger

Today is National Love a Tree day. Trees provide more than just beautiful landscapes and a shady canopy on a sunny day.  They play a significant role in reducing erosion and moderating the climate as well as give us oxygen. Large quantities of carbon are stored in their tissues as trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

That’s the adult version of why we should love trees. I think my grandson’s idea is better. He has a maple tree in his back yard that is the perfect climbing tree. The large branches are close enough to the ground that he and his friends can ascend easily. There are enough large branches that three or four boys can be in the tree at the same time and they each have their own spot to sit. When it gets quiet in the yard, I have learned to look up. They haven’t run off to one of the other boys yards, they are usually up in the tree. It always makes me smile.

I lived in Washington state when the tree huggers and ornithologists shut down logging for a time in order to save the habitat of the spotted owl. I’m a big animal lover but they almost killed the economy of the town and livelihood of the people where the logging companies had their headquarters. Personally I think people and jobs are more important than animals, but we don’t want to start an argument.

Think a second about the Christmas tree. Our winter would sure be drab without the holiday lights adorning pine trees; and in the south and west, palm trees.

It is the week of the Lilac Festival in Rochester, NY, and the Dogwood Festival in Dansville, NY. I know, lilacs are bushes, but I can drive down almost any street in my area right now and see the flowering trees and bushes in bloom. It is a beautiful energizing sight and smells good too. We also have to thank trees for their yummy fruit, tasty nuts, and how they are the homes to so many animals.

When you get around to thinking about all the reasons trees are important, it really is fitting they have a special day for some extra love.


Bucket List Vacation

It’s National Read a Road Map Day. I love how these days occur where I can fit in a subject I want to talk about. A few of you noticed my blog was missing last week. That was a big compliment. I wasn’t in front of my computer because I was using a city map to walk the streets of New Orleans; mainly, the French Quarter, a bucket list vacation.

My husband and I like music. I prefer country and we have had the privilege of walking Broadway in Nashville a couple of times. Loved it. My husband prefers jazz so last week we walked the French Quarter and are ready to go back as we didn’t get our fill of Dixieland Jazz with brass instruments in the bands.  When we checked into the Royal Sonesta hotel on Bourbon Street they gave us a city map. We didn’t go anywhere without it. By the third day we pretty well had the streets in the Quarter learned, but then we walked to the World War II museum that was in the Arts district. I will admit, we liked our vacation so well, we have been talking about retiring there and dreaming about real estate.

Last night on NCIS, the team’s phones were hacked so they couldn’t use the GPS on them. Gibbs asked them if they knew how to read a map. We had to chuckle as we had just relied on a map for a week.

We also used to ride a Harley and one of the fun things we did is go on road rallies. The map we got was more like a written list of landmarks we had to follow to get to check points. We usually did it in the locale I was raised in and often arrived at our final destination in the top 10% of the group. A feather in our cap (helmet).

Reading a road map, whether landmarks one is familiar with, city street names one can’t pronounce, or following interstates seems to be a lost art among the young. I’m glad I know how to do it. And, if you like music and people watching, New Orleans French Quarter is a great place to do both. Take lots of single dollar bills as everyone expects a tip, even the guys that drape beads around your neck.

Let’s Go “Mudding”

Note: This is not a paid advertisement for Jeep. 

Have you ever been “mudding”? If you like communing with nature, driving (or riding) over rough trails, don’t  mind getting dirty, and have a sense of adventure, I recommend “mudding” in a 4 X 4. Yes, you need that four-wheel drive to get over or through some of the terrain in the mountains. Hills work if you don’t have mountains near by.

In my younger days, I lived in Tacoma, Washington. I worked mornings, so had the afternoons to drive up into the mountains, to downtown Seattle or to the coast.  All were just an hour away, in different directions. I had a Chevy-Luv pick-up myself and loved to drive the relatively flat, but steep, logging roads near Mt. Rainier. I would find a place to get my baby truck off the road, so a logging truck could get by if necessary, then just sit on my tailgate and let the wilderness view calm my inner self. Nothing like it.

Sometimes I went with a friend that had a larger pick-up. He knew where the trails were and he would drive carefully over tree roots, across small streams, and even over boulders. It was a very bumpy, but breathtakingly beautiful ride. I didn’t treat my truck like he did his, but then, he could fix his if something happened.

A new guy started working where I did that had a Jeep 4 X 4 . I wasn’t shy then, or afraid of much. I asked him if he went “mudding” and could I go too. He gave me an odd look, as he was quite a bit younger, but said, “Yeah. When do you want to go?” I don’t remember the timing, but I sure remember the experience. We went the day after a good rain, and instead of avoiding the water filled ruts on the logging roads, he drove straight into them, as fast as he dared. Then he looked for some rougher terrain to prove his jeep could make it through the mud without getting stuck. The thought process was like a child stomping in mud puddles to see how high the water will fly. And of course, the jeep was left dirty as a sign of a successful “mud run”. I must say, it was exhilarating. I didn’t pay as much attention to the scenery, but I could describe the moment of fear when the windshield was blackened by dirty water and you couldn’t see where you were going for a second.

Currently my old back wouldn’t be able to handle the bumpiness of a good “mudding” day, but I sure have a wonderful memory of the time I got to do it. I highly recommend doing it at least once, in a Jeep 4 X 4 if possible.

It’s National Umbrella Day. When I first see the name of a day, sometimes immediate thoughts come to mind. Other times, I get a cup of coffee and think about things, then I read what the National Day of Calendar web-site tells me and I start seeing images to write about. It’s a process.

The calendar reminded me of wonderful movies in which an umbrella played a major part; “Singing in the Rain” and “Mary Poppins”. If you start picturing the use of a parasol for sunny days, I know the list would grow quickly. “Gone With the Wind” and “Downton Abbey” were the first two I thought of.

I lived in the Seattle-Tacoma area for fourteen years. And no, it doesn’t rain all the time. Often times, it’s just a light mist. We always used to say you could tell a local, because they wouldn’t carry or use an umbrella. I now live in Rochester, NY and we have more cloudy days than Seattle does. I’m not sure about the actual rainfall; if it compares or not. I have an umbrella in my car, but it rarely gets unfurled.

Let’s not leave out how film makers and photographers use umbrellas. I just learned they have a reflective under coating that diffuses the light in order to get a better picture. Interesting. I thought the curve of the umbrella did the job.

Whether you use an umbrella to ward off rain or shine, today is the day to thank the middle-eastern countries for inventing them over 4000 years ago and China for waterproofing them.

Now let’s bring it back home, what would we do without the umbrella on our patio table?


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