To all the mothers in my life

To all the mothers in my life

I’ll begin with my mother, Sharon Brezee Zentner, shown here with me and our daughter Carrie, who is now a mother herself.

And then there is my grandmother May Brezee, who was a special person in my life. She is shown here having just been introduced to her great-granddaughter, Carrie. May had a number of children of her own (four surviving), and loved having grandchildren. “My little lambies,” she called us. She would make cakes that looked like bunnies at Easter, and surround them with flowers.

I would now and again, in a temper, run away to May’s house (my mother would call her, “Sandra’s on her way.”), and May would sit me down with an unglazed pot on her patio, and get me to decorate it. Then there would magically appear on the table beside me a freshly baked thick slice of brown bread, lathered in butter. Mothering at its best!

May was an amazing potter and fabric artist. There was no limit to her creativity.

My mother, Sharon Zentner, was also a creative crafts-person. Here is one of her many hooked rugs:

This is a detail of one of her many beautiful quilts:

In her 20s, she painted, as well. I’ve framed and hung one of her paintings in the dining room downstairs. It is one of my favorites, a painting of me (far right, clothed), and “the devil in me” (naked, and pondering mischief). It is set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where we lived for a time.

Our daughter, Carrie Sudds, has carried on with the family fabric-art tradition. (My own first book was on Seminole Indian patchwork, very nearly published.) Here is a detail from a beautiful quilt she has made for me.

And here’s one of the gorgeous quilt she recently made her father:

I want to also mention my mother-in-law, Margaret Gulland, with whom I had a dear relationship.

We were very relaxed with each other, and could chat for hours. She loved the Royals, so I always brought her the latest magazines, and, after her eyesight failed, I would read them to her. (We would have had a lot to talk about these days!)

Margaret was very fond of her youngest child’s husband, Jean-Ives Paquette, who sadly passed away last night. He was a dear man, and his affection for Margaret was obvious. I’m comforted in the thought that Margaret is with him now.

I wish you a happy Mother’s Day, and healing hugs to those of us who have reason to mourn.



Mice, explosions and a big bear — plus Sundae Sundries: links for writers, Napoleonistas & Sun King fans

Mice, explosions and a big bear — plus Sundae Sundries: links for writers, Napoleonistas & Sun King fans

We had little more excitement this week than we cared for!

{A cloudy NY offered wonderful photo opportunities. I especially enjoyed catching the suggestive night window dressing moment on the Highline.}

After a wonderful trip to NY to see our son, we arrived home in good time on Tuesday, only to be overwhelmed by the sickening smell of dead mouse wafting throughout the house. We quickly threw down our suitcases, opened all windows and doors and set five fans blowing.

Shortly after, the power went out (but not because of the fans), and shortly after that there was a terrifying series of extremely loud explosions. I found out what I do in such a case: I run in and out of the house trembling. (Handy to know: there’s an explosion in my next YA about Hortense.) We thought it must have been the meter, triggered somehow by our new electrical furnace.

It was 6:00 by this time. We were afraid to use our generator under the circumstances, so we set out all the candles and flashlights, the land-line telephone, and closed the windows and doors since we wouldn’t have heat for the night. By then we’d thought better of staying. Instead, we’d have a quick dinner while there was still light, then pack up and move to our cabin on a lake. It was in a state of disruption due to work being done on it, but at least it had electricity, toilets and a Net connection. Who knew how long we would be without power at the house? In the morning we would contact the furnace and electrical companies.

The next morning, the furnace turned out not to be the villain, but the dead mouse was found. (Yes!) Then the electricity crew came out. A transformer on the telephone pole 100 ft. from our house had exploded. Why, we don’t know. It had been a calm, cloudless day.

The power was going to be out at the house for some time, so we packed up more gear and returned to the cabin, where—groan—we discovered that the power had gone out due to a problem in a village some distance from us.

So: back to the house, having since learned that we could safely use the generator.

We returned to a house littered with open suitcases, dirty dishes, candles and fans—but blessedly odour-free.

That evening, however, a friend encountered a very large bear at the top of our driveway. I was waiting for her not 25 feet away.

TMI? I just had to share.

It’s a pleasure to get back to what might be considered Normal Life. However, there are two things I should put on my To Do List every day, for inevitably they have to be dealt with:

  • 1 hour: puzzle out why Net/computer/software isn’t working.
  • ½ hour: search for something I’ve misplaced.

Here was my To Do List for today:

  • 1 hr. exercise
  • 2 hrs. puzzle out plot
  • 1 hr. Skype French lesson
  • chat with our son & daughter
  • ½ hour weeding
  • 1 hr. taxes
  • ½ hr. watercolour painting
  • blog post

I am down to the last one: this blog post. It helps to wake at 4:00 with a compelling idea on how to tackle the plot revision. (More on that later.)

My Sundry Sundae delectable links for this week:


Links for writers …

3 Simple Prewriting Strategies.

The Units of Story: The Sequence. There is a lot to learn in this series from

Links for Napoleonistas people with a sick sense of humour …

• Okay, this is a little sick: Napoleonistas as well as parents will be understandably offended by this account of how Napoleon died, as told by stinking drunk kids. (The Drunk History series is rather amusing.)

Links for Sun King enthusiasts …

• There has been quite a bit again this week on the Sun King because September 1st was the 300th anniversary of his death. Here is a big treat for you all: The King Who Invented Ballet, a wonderful BBC documentary on how Louis XIV invented ballet. At the end of the video is the ballet. Heavenly! (Note: if for some reason you can’t watch this video here, you can watch it on YouTube.)

• Accompany this with a Forbes article: How Ballet Can Make You A Better Leader.

Have a great week!