You can write to me at: susan at plumbline1.com (spelled out @ to avoid spam.)

I am a writer, wife and mother to four boys,



Where I’m From

(You can comment, and read other’s comments on this post here: )

I am from formica counter tops, Sunrise Easter Services, brown cinnamon swirls made from leftover dough, and ice cream socials in the spring. I am from sunburns sprayed with Solarcaine, and homemade dresses from Spiegel patterns. I am from rubber drinking cups from the grain elevator stamped with the Champaign Landmark logo, Pepsi from returnable glass bottles, and counters littered with coffee-stained recipe cards in handwriting that makes me homesick.

Susie alan babyI am from the bungalow house on White Street in the village that is still dry, that sits in the valley that holds two castles in front of the Mac-O-Chee Creek, with cold, fast-moving water that smoothes the gold and brown pebbles in its bed.

I am from the Hickory trees where I played “house”, Shasta daises, hollyhocks, red fox squirrels and the weathered barn and chicken coop at my Grandmother’s. From the meadows filled with grasses, deer, wheat, soybean and cornfields. I am from, “the cows are out,” and the strawberry patch at Betty’s we picked from each June. From the valley that fills with hazy fog in summer mornings, and ice storms in winter. I am from the German Shepherd named Queenie that is still a source of comfort in my dreams. I am from the cherry tree I climbed and hid in as my Mother called my name.

I am from chanting I see Lakewood in car rides in Summer, and canning green beans, corn, and pears in the pressure cooker in August. I am from hard working farmers, and puzzle masters, and worriers from Millie, and hugs from Alfred, (who always had a too-rough beard but lots of love), and Joyce, and Helen’s white paper bag of peanut clusters, and Grandpa and Grandma Watkins.

I am from the card players on Saturday night, whose best and only friends were their 7 brothers, sisters — and their mates, and whose idea of comfort was listening to the corn grow and watching the bugs fly around the pole light. I am from the sound of clicking metal needles that made Afghans, doilies and baby blankets.

I am from thunder is just God moving his furniture, and hold your feet up when the car goes over the bridge. And the one I never understood, I’ve got your nose, and later, whenever one door closes, God opens a window somewhere else.  And from Helen, “God never gives you more than you can handle.” I still wonder about that one.

I am from the fundamental, born-again Christian Church, and I thankfully later learned that everything is not black and white, and that there is gray and lots of love. I am from the farmers who believed that hard work gave them favor in God’s eyes. I am from the tea-stained handbook by Norman Vincent Peale, now out of print, that I think was Grandma Watkins, as she met him; it now sits on my nightstand, and I read from it every night, mostly because I miss her.

I am from farmlands and woods, of gatherers from France, England and Germany who started as onion farmers in this new land. I am from the 1963 black chevy that took me home from the Mary Rutan Hospital, the place I was born, the first and last place my Mother ever spoke to me. From Grandma’s homemade noodles, hunting and frying Morels, pitchers of iced-sun tea, frog legs that were really hamburgers, and hard-tack candy and popcorn popped on Sunday night after church.

I am from the car parked under the big maple tree on Saturdays, and washed with the garden hose, and 4th of July fireworks with the Wooten’s at the Airport, who told me the pretty red one was for me and the pretty blue one was for my brother and the next was for Mom, and the next for Dad.


From watching the men in my sleepy, dry town gawk at June who would walk up and down Main Street in her leopard mini skirt, high heels and boa feather scarf. From tying a string to a cornstalk so I could wander freely in the field without fearing I’d get lost, from sleeping alone with my Grandma and sensing her strength and calm when she heard the coyote howl outside the door.

I am from playing hide the button during power outages. From the Mom who took off and ran to heaven when I wasn’t looking, and whose flowers still bloom from the earth where she planted them.

I am from the Father whose twinkling blue eyes still make my heart jump. And from the time when I was 3, I was lost in the crowd of people in Church, and I spotted his hand, at eye level, and instantly knew it was his, and squeezed it tight. The same hand that I would, 40 years later, cover and splash with my tears, as it held mine during her funeral.

I am from the box of black and white photographs from my Grandmother’s ancestors that was left in my Mother’s house, which I had the courage to dutifully sort through on the first Christmas Eve without my Mom. The house that held the 3 family Bibles that date from 1856, that are barely staying together, and the quilts finished and unfinished. I am from the washcloths and rags and nightgowns I now keep in my house to sniff and remind me of the fresh air and open fields of my home. I am from the matriarchs who raised me from my knees, whom I thought would be here to help me through my journey as a Mother of my 4 boys, but are not.

Even though they are etched in my heart, Susiej.com is where I record the every day moments, heart-felt and frustrating, and also document the times when life really was stranger than fiction. Mixed in are epiphanies of discoveries that helped me to save time, a recipe that worked out well, and a tip that made something humdrum less so. Without Susiej.com, many things recorded here would otherwise slip through my fingers. Writing is good for the soul, and I encourage you to do the same.

27 comments to “About”
  1. Dear Susie,

    I just read about where you’re from. Funny, that’s where I’m from too.

    Trying out your home remedies for chest and head cold sans antibiotics tonight. It sounds familiar as I too was raise in house that maybe saw an asprin on rare occasion, but that was it. My Mom and Dad were old school home remedy Doctors of high regard. Married during the 30’s, they knew the value of making do with what-ya-got. Kept me and my three sisters and brother well our whole life and we’re all still tickin… Sounds like the kind of house you run “where your from”…

    Thanks for the smiles and home remedy,

    A New Fan

    P.S. My brother and I were geniuses when it came to making “crafts of mass destruction” when we were young. I don’t think you’d approve of some of them so I’ll spare the details. But, you certainly know the mind of a young boy. I’d say those are lucky lads you’re raising.

  2. Hi Suzie,
    I am wondering how much D/Earth to buy at once. We have a small kitchen. How much space does the powder cover, does it kill roaches too? We live in an apartment building. We are wondering how much to buy at first, do we need the 1lb, 3lb, 10lb?? Thank you for your suggestion!

  3. Hi Suzie
    I stumbled on to your website whilst searching for ideas for my “Fathers” speech at my daughters Engagement party tomorrow (she’s the youngest and engaged to an eldest). I was/am enchanted with the personable style of your writing and the clarity and rich colour of your expression of your memories. My life in Australia has many similarities and (as I reflect now) richness. We forget the building blocks and foundations with the tyranny of the urgent and the muddiness of the moment. But your writing made me realise it is all still there. Enjoy, grow and build but never lose your freshness and clarity. I thank you for this accidental intersection, it has made my day. May you continue to add something to others as you have in a small way today for me.

  4. I decided that today was the day I was to find out how to get rid of pantry moths and fell into your not trap blog and liked it alot. Thanks for being there and helping put these critters out of our lives’ forever. We have a big country kitchen and the screens are missing out of the door and we get in only an occasional wasp and or lightning bug. Nobody bothers from either camp and are fairly copasetic. Except for these moths. Your encounter paraells mine and it is good to know about how those larvae wait till the coast is clear. That makes sense. Your description of DE sounds identically to our pool DE and you comment that it isn’t the same. How is it different? I was hoping just to use that if possible. I enjoy reading your stuff. Keep it up. Thanks Richard

  5. Hi,

    I accidentally commented on your don’t fret the sweat contest w/ my full name. Can you please remove my last name from that comment or just add only my last name’s initial?


  6. Minding my own business, living in the moment, feeling a great contentedness and looking for a salt rub for turkey on this Thanksgiving Eve… and I hit your website. I read your ‘where I’m from’ and it feels spiritual. Thanks for the unexpected trip down your path. Love to you and your family and thanks for the salt rub instructions.


  7. I was looking for new idea for valentines boxes..thanks! I found your ideas awesome. Wanted to share other ideas that we have done in the past with you….We asked our local pizza shop for a clean pizza box. Decorated the top with a pizza of course, made of foil on bottom and pizza made with pepperoni (hearts) The kids simply lifted the lid and put their cards inside. One year we used a 2 liter pop bottle and made a “sweet cola” cut off the top and 1,2,3…we had a simple container to fit cards. Hope you have a happy one!!

  8. I really enjoyed your recent opinion piece in the SNP re: the moon and planets. It had some great quotes! I’d love to share it with others, but can’t seem to find it online anywhere. Do yo have a link to it?

  9. WOW!
    I accidentally ran across your website looking for info on the Mac-O-Chee castle.

    I read your poem/story “Where I’m From”………….

    I never get all teary eyed being a big tough guy (lol)….but it made me get teary eyed to read it.

    I’m from Old North Dayton originally and use to fish the Mad River around your home in my youth. Was a pretty place in the late 60’s and early 70’s as I remember it.

    I was born mid-50’s but your story made me remember a great many of the same things.

    Ahhhh, the truly good old days!

    BTW… I too use to hide in this wild cherry tree at my grandmas and hide from her as she called me to come in at night in the summer.

    Anyway………. very nice writing. Keep it up!



  10. Will you please send me the Lemon Syrup Shake up recipe? I can’t find the full recipe,It cuts off @ where it says each needs 3-4….
    Thank you,

  11. Susie, I just Googled Remedies for Low Iron, and I came upon your website. Recently, I have been diagnosed with low iron (anemia), which helps explain why I am consistently tired, even though I am not a mom. As I “journey on” to gain more knowledge about anemia and the causes of, just wanted to thank you for your sharing your knowledge and practical suggestions on how to overcome this condition. Take care!

  12. Hi Susie, I am also a wife and mother to four wonderful sons and named Suzy! (hello twinsie) I stumbled onto your blog while researching how to make Irish porridge. I just returned from Ireland and am having withdrawal from not having my porridge, brown bread and so many other things…
    I just felt like saying hi to you and thanks for the blog. I have also debated starting a blog (on a vastly different topic) and am appreciating the personal touch that you and other writers provide to those of us in the world at large.

  13. I do not write a ton of comments, however after browsing a ton of
    comments here About | Susiej. I actually do have some questions for you if
    you do not mind. Could it be just me or do a few of these remarks appear like they
    are coming from brain dead folks? 😛 And,
    if you are writing on additional social sites, I’d like to follow anything fresh you have to post. Would you list of all of all your social networking pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  14. Pingback: Hello | Susiej

  15. Hi Susie…You probably hear this alot but…you are doing a wonderful service on here…thanks and have a wonderful weekend, Tony

  16. I just stumbled across your blog when I Googled Curious George and appendicitis. Your writing is wonderful. I have already read several posts, and bookmarked it so I can find it again.

    Thank you for the gift of your stories on a rainy Monday afternoon.

  17. Thank you for your “Where I’m From” essay. It brought a lot of memories back to me of when I was growing up. My parents, 82 years old, still living, have been married since they were 17. Our family as it used to be has been dwindling, and sadly it is a new day in these more modern times for kids growing up.

  18. Hi
    Love your web-site! All of it! And your hair! Is it from a perm? What kind of rollers do you use for that soft un-curl? I really love it!

    Thanks so much Jani

  19. Hi Susie. I just want to say that your blog on “Menorrhagia: What Works in Less Than 24 Hours” has completely saved me. For the past 15 weeks, I have been in and out of the ER every week or two with heavy clots and uncontrollable bleeding that doctors could not do anything about. I had biopsies, pap smears, ultra sounds, and each time I was told that my hormones were just “out of whack”. I am in my early 40s and going through perimenopause, so the doctors would just prescribe Provera every time, which was not working for me. I was on high doses of Provera, along with Ibuprofen. The Ibuprofen helped a little, but not enough, and I knew it was not something I could continue long term.

    At one point, I had a Mirena procedure, only to have it cause more bleeding for weeks on end. After two weeks, it was dislodged and needed to be removed. My blood pressure which has always been normal, was now high, and I was becoming severely anemic (close to needing a blood transfusion). My pulse was over 100 beats per minute almost every time they checked it and I could hardly get out of bed most days. All of this was due to menorrhagia that the doctors could not help me with.

    While searching online for remedies, I came across your blog and decided to try Shepherds Purse and Cod Liver Oil, while at the same time completely getting off Provera and Ibuprofen. Believe it or not, it worked! It took a full week for it to control my bleeding, but each day that I would take the concoction, it would get better and better, so it gave me hope to continue trying it. With the grace of God, and with your help, I am finally beginning to feel like my former self again. I am beginning to recover and rebuild my iron stores again. I finally have my life back. I honestly cannot thank you enough for helping me with this issue, which was not only affecting my entire life, but was also becoming a life threatening issue.

    I am certain your blogs have not only helped me, but many others! You are an angel. I am forever grateful to you. Thanks again.

  20. I came across your honey hair lightening recipe on Pinterest. Then i started looking across more of your blog and found this lovely entry. What a beautiful peephole into your life! I feel as if I can relate to it on many different levels…and I’m only 19 years old. I suppose you may say I am an old soul at heart.

  21. When you spoke of your Father (his hand at church) it brought me to tears and could have written that myself.
    I am loving living life with you.

  22. Thanks for article on pantry moths and DE. I won a door prize of bird feeder and bird food just before went away last Feb so put it in basement and found it crawling when returned in March..YIKES! have been cleaning and battling them since then, and still kill 2-3/ day. Got DE today. Is there anything to mix with it to attract them? I got moth traps with limited success. Have cleaned and pitched stuff but will start again.

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