There’s always something new..


In discovering historical evidence of current and previous civilizations and cultures, the diligent researcher realizes that one conclusion is truly inescapable: historical assumptions are constantly changing!!

As I delve into the history of medicine, time after time I must revisit previous information and match that with the alterations provided by present historians. When I was a child in elementary school, the then curricula was brief and flattering/scathing to  historical figures. Thus the student had to conclude that every major player in the world was one of two things:  hero or villain.

There was a play called ‘Porgy and Bess’. In it was a song that echoes my current take on history – “It ain’t necessarily SO!” Some historical educators have been taken aback when I contend that History IS under constant revision.

Case in point: medicine and surgery have been performed for over four millenia. Pharmaceuticals in current use today are reformulations the minerals and plants and animal by-products that have existed since earth’s creation. Which is ok, too. Too much or too little of something can indeed be dangerous or ineffective without specific knowledge of proper proportions. Surgical techniques have had to take into account the individual patient’s ability to withstand the physical rigors involved. Conclusion – you can’t be too careful.

There IS always something MORE to be learned. Nothing is a permanent FACT but that it will be subject to revision as new information comes to light. To me, that’s thrilling. Life-long learning is humanity’s living legacy. So, let’s hear it for archeologists, geologists and historians the world over! Thank you for all you do!!!  Author photo Sue 0815  Thanks for stopping by, Susan

P.S. ‘There’s always something new..’ IS the title of this piece. Hope it doesn’t confuse!


She’s Alive!!!

Bet you thought that I gave up on the blogging thing! Nope, just that I’ve been dealing with health issues, which have nearly resolved -Thank Heaven!!! Just learned that I have some ‘royalties’ coming from my ebook version of Life Song. (Hope that it will prove more impressive than the check I just got from Medicare for .08. Hey, General Services Administration: can’t you just carry ridiculous amounts as a credit??  Just my opinion, it costs us more to fool around like that.)

All of the above notwithstanding, my brain has begun to function again. So, I’m working on the sequel to my book. I got to look up lots of interesting things. For instance, medical training has been available in Ireland since about the time of Christ, concurrent with the developments in healing in Egypt, Judea, Greece. Aside from that, all of these medical traditions were saved for the world by the Arab scholars. The monks in European monasteries copied these works and they made their way to Ireland where those same medical traditions were recast into the then-known world. Love this stuff!!!

Then, too, I have reviewed all of my posts to date and wanted you to know that I am not a modern day ‘banshee’ bewailing the hard aspects of life. I have a weird sense of humor but really do love people and life in general. Thought that I would share an excerpt from one of my short stories so you could see what I mean.

Harry’s Avian Café

I:  The Ducks      They lined up this morning, milling around in guarded expectation.  There were several species of duck present:  Muscovies with white heads, yellow beaks and red mottling that looked like modeling clay tacked into place by a playful Creator.  Mallards displayed lovely earth tones with patches of soft yellow peeking out on lower spots on their wings.  The “tall guys” had mostly shiny black plumage with lovely iridescent green on their wing tips and more of the same shiny green in bands around their necks. As a Caregiver, I come in to get Harry his meals; do light housekeeping and other care as needed.  Among other things, I also assist Harry, our client, with feeding his local birds. Harry is a very special, loving person.  He loves his family and he cares for his avian friends.  Every week, if there isn’t enough bird seed in the bin that he stores on the enclosed patio, that item appeared on his weekly shopping list.038

We live in Southwest Florida, in Fort Myers.  Harry’s home lies in a community where each cluster of homes has a little pond with an aerator at its center.  This aerator also serves the ducks as a diving platform.  It is really fun to watch them in action as two or three at a time land and get set to dive back into the water.  Observing the various species as they come to patronize Harry’s Avian Café, it is apparent how generally well-fed these feathered neighbors are.  Did you ever notice how nomad animals that neighborhoods share are often Anything but scrawny??

I am more familiar with the habits of cats.  It’s been my experience to “adopt” a stray, only to have it disappear for days at a time and show up again.  One thing about nomad cats I’ve known:  they never seem the worse for wear for having been out of my care for varying periods.  Apparently, the same holds true for Floridian ducks.  Harry’s “buddies” would make Daniel Boone’s mouth water at the prospect of bagging any one of them.  However, in 21st century America, ecologists frown on human hunting, so poor ole’ Dan’l would probably face a citation and/or fine for his normal pursuits from the local authorities.

This morning, Harry’s Avian Café opened to a brisk trade.  Several of the black and green variety and a couple of Muscovies lined up expectantly by the lanai (Florida’s name for a screened porch) door.  They backed off a foot or so as I went out to get their orders from the seed bin.  As I spread the seed on the ground for them, they moved into a semi-circular lineup, flipping their tail feathers in a happy, if guarded fashion.  “Ok, here you go.  Enjoy!” I called to them as I retreated back into the house to look after their benefactor.  All in all, we had a brisk trade that morning.  I counted nineteen customers and informed Harry.  He just smiled and said “Very good” as he enjoyed his own breakfast.

II:  The Squirrels                                                          

Harry loves the little creatures of this Earth.  Watching them and moving among them fills him with peace and contentment.  He can tell you what species are for the most part.  If you ask him about nearly anything, chances are he has a good store of knowledge to draw from and can provide you with a pretty good answer.  As any good restaurateur, Harry reserves the right to refuse service to anyone.  The neighborhood squirrels he perceives as unwelcome diners.  He is not the only person who sees them that way.


One afternoon earlier in the summer of 2013, I discovered that Harry had been diligently studying this problem.  He directed me into the garage and indicated a small saw and bid me follow him out to the backyard.  The object of the quest was a long branch of the slender tree opposite the bird feeder.  I studied the base of the branch, made an appropriate notch on the base and with several strokes of the blade, severed it cleanly.  Then, Harry instructed me in cutting it into thirds for the yard waste pickup.  Hopefully, the intent was to deprive the pesky rodents from launching themselves onto the bird feeder.  They would have to content themselves with the ducks’ leftovers (if any). These furry café patrons had other ideas, however. No matter what we did to foil their incursions, the squirrels continued to demand and obtain a portion of Harry’s choice cuisine.  After a time the shield installed on the bird feeder was gradually pounded down from the base of the bird feeder to the ground.They could be seen munching contentedly away alongside the ducks, pigeons, Ibis’ and Egrets.

III. “Oh, yeah?!” 

The next phase of ‘Operation Invasion Dissuasion’ involved an invitation to move the squirrels to another location.  Traps were set out to catch the unwanted diners for later release.  At least three of them were evicted from Harry’s Avian Café by this method.  When rain threatened, Harry had us move the cages beneath the eaves of the house to protect them until the ‘movers’ could collect them and introduce them to their new habitat.  This scheme worked only for a brief period.  I came to doubt its success when as many or more of the squirrels continued to reappear to enjoy the Café’s bill of fare. My question is this:  do squirrels have the same homing instinct as Lassie??  In any event, Harry decided not to pursue further eviction proceedings.  If squirrels could wink, I believe these characters are doing so.

Live and let live.

Harry’s Avian Café continues to enjoy its well-earned reputation as the place to be in Parker Lakes.  The birds don’t mind.  They don’t run off the diverse patrons as they dine side by side.  Harry’s blue eyes look on as his guests enjoy his hospitality.  God bless!!

Thanks for stopping by!! Hope to make a few improvements to this blog very soon. Blessings!! Sue, the History Girl

Author photo Sue 0815



Overcoming Ineptitude

There are times in all of our lives when we just don’t have the expert touch. This is true for me, more times than I care to recall. Ineptitude, by definition, is the lack of ability to competently perform a particular task. For example, I cannot repair or install a carburetor in a car. But I can drive any vehicle and check fluids and add the right amount. Every person has a number of skill sets developed over their lifetimes. I’ve often stated that I am a life-long learner. What’s the key to overcoming an ineptitude?  Right! Find out what you don’t know, get the information and apply it.

Nobody graduates from diapers and is ready to run a marathon in their infancy. Well, I am an infant in the computer world. So I look for pertinent information on a program or application and start taking notes. Notes? Oh yes, by all means. After all, sometimes you have to review a process to get it ‘down pat’.

The neat thing is that you don’t have to stay ignorant about something you really want to learn and add to your skills. That is why I like to stand on the shoulders of giants: those who have shown the way in any particular field of endeavor. To these giants (the lovely people who write How To instructions), I say “you have my undying gratitude.” Resources, I just love resources, those step-by-step instructions that help us learn what we need to know. Thank you!

Author photo Sue 0815Old style typewriterlaptop pic

Resolved:To Learn What I Can in the ‘E-World”

Many thanks to those of you who viewed my last post. Not too long ago, I ruminated on the proposition of becoming proficient in at least basics in WP. Oh, boy [sigh!]

If one thing occurs to me, it is this: the human brain is still a far superior storage unit for absorbing new information, archiving and categorizing things all of the time. In fact, when trying to call up something in answer to another person’s question, I’ve taken to replying, ‘give me a minute, I’m archiving.’ Heck, I don’t even have to worry about my brain/computer “crashing” and needing to be reprogrammed (unless I am fool enough to get into an accident, or fall victim to something in my genetic code that short-circuits.

I like to continue to view our technology as wonderful, useful tools. They are getting more impressive all the time. That said, I have a number of tutorials to tackle. This I will do. As imperative as learning this program and it’s aspects continues to be, I still have to remind myself that the best way to learn anything is one item at a time! Then practice, practice and practice some more. Many thanks as well to the WordPress community who offer so much valuable information as I continue this journey.  Thanks for stopping by, Sue

History Alive - Storytelling

It is so exciting to become a published author (at last!!)

Life Song: An Irish Odyssey is the result of nearly six years’ research, and multiple rewrites. I chose the pen name of Susan O’Neill to honor my parents. Becoming a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association is an especially exciting experience, too. Acting on the maxim that it’s never too late (to do anything, really, as long as we’re still breathing) I feel more alive than ever. Sounds weird except this is coming from a ‘junior Senior’ citizen. Writing and storytelling have been a part of the fabric of my life.

As the oldest sibling in a large family, one of my favorite activities at the close of the day was to gather my brothers and sisters around me and tell bedtime stories. We loved Grimm Brothers, Hans Christian Anderson and an obscure book of tales entitled The…

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On Dealing with the ‘Gerbil in a wheel syndrome’

Causeway Ft. Myers-SanibelAhh, sunny Florida! Vacation paradise extraordinaire! Oh, yes, it’s quite true.  It has been my fortune these past few years to be a full-time resident.  This is not the equivalent of ‘lady of leisure’, however. If not working for a health care agency here, my computer and files and research materials mutely demand what time and brain power I can spare.  

Oh, yes, there remains the question of the title of this missive. Recall if you will a visit to a pet shop where you observed small pets in cages: hamsters, mice, and my favorite – the gerbil. This little creature takes his time on the wheel very seriously. Nothing else will do but to jump onto the wheel, there to run an exhaustive race, day in and day out. Perhaps nature has encoded a necessity for this. To a human being, the little guy is just running in place. Except for the time spent nestled in the cedar shavings or nibbling on a seed or sipping water from its tube, our intrepid gerbil never takes a break from its routine. People are like that too. I am.

It IS a tough proposition to take yourself away from the routine. Any routine! It’s not a good thing to push beyond exhaustion in the name of duty or progress.  Exhaustion of body and mind send us to medical offices because we can’t seem to extricate ourselves from a mindset that punishes us mentally and physically. Gratefully, I recall the individuals who have been sent my way to help me review my activities and prioritize. These same people have been down this type of path. They have suffered the consequences of misplaced guilt and other imperatives that create physical disorders. What I am most grateful for is the realization that people can help people. Each encounter helps the healer and the one seeking restored health. Recall the phrase “it takes one to know one?”  It’s like the biblical phrase “..apples of gold in pitchers of silver..” those heartfelt talks. Words have power when interpreted to your benefit. So can the kind touch or look.

This week, I stared at boxes and piles that had to be dealt with or risk become labeled a hoarder. Personally, I would not care to experience such chaos. Traffic is enough to contend with, without losing my sense of harmony and balance to unneeded rubbish! So, the point is this: take a time out when you find yourself overwhelmed. It’s amazing how much a rested body and mind can accomplish when you give yourself time to restore!

All for now. And, do believe me, I make myself do so. I’m going out to sit on the “lanai” (Floridian for patio) and watch the clouds scud by. Oh, yeah, it’s rainy season.  Blessings! Sue

Life’s Storms: Internal or Otherwise


Dealing with the storms of life can either wear you down or reinforce your resolve to go through them and learn what you can.The photo above evokes the spirit of Chapter 17, The Second Voyage from my novel, Life Song: An Irish Odyssey. In this chapter, Owyn and his companion, Brother Ignatius are on a voyage up the eastern coast of Ireland. The Viking ship is commanded by Lord Aarvald, the earl and one of war chiefs of the ruler of 10th century Dublin. Owyn’s initial misgivings in accepting this transport are further complicated as ship and passengers deal with a sudden squall on the Irish Sea.

In this passage, I am reminded of just how often the circumstances of a day can force us into situations that we would ordinarily have passed up. I’m sure you have been presented with choices that make you uneasy. As the events unfold, you’re sure you should have declined and sought out some other, more comfortable solution. Take for example an argument with a family member. You sense that the subject matter will not become a reasonable or friendly discussion. Desiring to avoid the confrontation you try to make an exit only to find the way out blocked. Our defenses become useless as the tensions mount. Later you can look back and try to figure out the who, what, why of it. But when you are in the situation all you can do is defend. If that doesn’t work, a few well placed punches (fist or nasty remark) are all you can pull out of your ‘bag of tricks.’

The next day, embattled from the previous encounter, you may find yourself at work. Work’s a haven from thinking about family stuff, right? Oh no. Today is performance review day. So that day’s treat is a litany of your shortcomings, accompanied with the dreaded ‘verbal warning.’

It’s terribly difficult to keep your sense of self-worth intact as these types of encounters mar your life.  Some things you can’t avoid. Some things you should avoid. When you can not do so you are forced to evaluate a few things:

  • What have I been doing that brought [the encounter] on?
  • Was it deserved?
  • How should I handle this?
  • Is it [relationship or job] worth making amends?
  • Do I have to work things out?
  • Do I want to change?

The challenges – to our integrity, or being understood – need to be weighed carefully. Our decisions to stay the course or change direction is ultimately our own.

Thanks for stopping by! Warm regards, Sue




Random thoughts…but there is a point!

Tonight finds me weary but I want to share a really nice recent experience.  Saturday our writer’s group (Gulf Coast Writers Association of Fort Myers) had an exceptional speaker who gave us invaluable advice. Her name is Bobbie Christmas. Ms. Christmas gave us all some real succinct advice. Don’t you just love people who ‘cut to the chase'( which is an old Hollywood term derived from Westerns of the 1930’s.)

The high  points were:

  • Sometimes adverbs can be your friend.Warning: not always, though.
  • Write freely – don’t edit yourself until you’re done.
  • If you’re in the creative process hoping for a comfy passive income, by all means do dream on!
  • Don’t write in the same speech pattern that you speak conversationally. The reader may not get it.
  • Describe something so that the word picture equals what you meant when you wrote.

There were other things but overall those stood out for me. Essentially, always subscribe the KISS principle. Thoreau advised us all to ‘simplify, simplify.’ So did Bobbie Christmas.

So writers, artists, take heart! Keep your dreams alive. Just keep on keeping on. Warm regards, Sue

Never lose your sense of wonder