Archive for the ‘Phyllis Kennemer, Writer’ Category

Summer Friends

Monday, July 18th, 2011

I meet a new set of friends each summer. They exist on the pages of mystery novels. I choose a series and read as many books as I can find. It is comforting to go from one book to another; always returning to the adventures of the characters that I come to know and love.


Two of my best friends this summer are Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers. They live in a series of books written by Elizabeth George. She places these characters in New Scotland Yard inLondon, but they travel all overEnglandto solve crimes much too complicated for local law enforcement agencies. Lynley and Havers work well together and come to respect each other – although they are totally opposite in every way. Tommy is a tall, elegant, aristocratic Earl endowed with suave charm and keen intelligence. Barbara is a short, unattractive young woman living in a lower class neighborhood, but she is plenty smart. She often notes clues overlooked by others and she holds her ground in defending her positions.


George’s novels are complex and rich. The settings are intricate and accurate – exhibiting  her love ofEngland, although she is a native of theU.S.All of her characters, even the minor ones, have distinct personalities and psychological complexities. George also experiments with different writing styles – ensuring that each reading is fresh and exciting.


Kinsey Millhone was my friend of choice last summer. She appears in Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries, beginning with A Is for Alibi and continuing through U is for Undertow (so far).Kinsey is a Private Investigator inLos Angeles in the 1980s. She is single (twice divorced). The stories are told in first person and Kinsey’s cynical, wise-cracking personality balances out some of the horrific situations she finds herself in. Reading the books through (mostly in order of publication) provided an opportunity to experience Kinsey’s development and growing maturity.


Summer before last, I got well acquainted with Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the New York Police Department as J. D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) envisioned it becoming in the mid-21st century, so her stories offered a bit of science fiction along with mystery. Eve is a tall, beautiful woman with confident strength of character. Her husband, known only as Roarke, is fantastically rich, wonderfully handsome, and ever supportive of his wife. These two main characters dominate the stories, but secondary characters were well developed and in some ways more likeable, such as Eve’s assistant, Delia Peabody – a bit overweight, uncertain about her abilities, and sometimes emotional.


Some of the murder scenes and harrowing events in all of the above mentioned books are pretty gruesome, but I read on steadily because I know that my book friends will solve the mysteries and all will be well by the end of each volume.


Friends to the Third Degree

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Last night we went out to dinner at Adelita's (Heiditown gives a great review with photo) here in Loveland. The food is good and the atmosphere is more “Little Mexico in My Neighborhood” than anything else. Located off the main thoroughfares but still easy to find in the downtown area, it is a place where the locals meet 'n greet.

Our gathering was an impromptu kind of thing. Our friend Pat's grandson Robert was in town, which was as good an excuse as any for a night out. Pat called us, said Jan was coming, too, and so was Bo. So I called Helen and Phyl, who sometimes join us when we play cards and chickenfoot or Mexican Train dominoes. We know Trudy likes Mexican food, so we asked her to join us.

We sat in no particular order, filling in seats around the long table as we happened to follow one another in from the porch. It was a noisy, laughter-filled dinner. At one point Pat leaned over to me and said smiling, “Just listen to the cacophony around this table!” With all the side conversations going on, we were indeed sitting in the midst of some rather boisterous dialogues. Discussions ranged from who was doing what to what, to mixed drinks or wines we liked, which shots were lethal (Starry Nights!) and specific desserts not to be missed. Which led to ordering 3 desserts (Flan, Key Lime Pie and Fried Ice Cream) and enough spoons so we could pass around each yummy dish.

I looked around the table, eyes resting one by one on the familiar faces, and pondered.

Let's see … going clockwise … there sat Pat, whom I'd met nearly 16 years ago when her dear friend Jan was my boss. Pat and Jan's children, who are now sending their children off to college and beyond, grew up together. Trudy and her first husband knew my husband and his first wife when their children were small. I met Phyl through Colorado Authors' League … or was it a mutual writer-friend? Robert is Pat's grandson, who stopped here on his way to California, and we know him from previous visits. Helen … well, I've known Helen forever, and we became reacquainted through mutual colleagues and writers. She and Phyl are members of the Weekly Writers' Workshop that sits UnderTheCuckooClock each week. Fred is my best friend and partner in business and life, and Bo is Jan's one-door-down neighbor. Their children grew up together, too.

As it ended up, Jan wasn't feeling well, so Bo took take-out back to her. We all signed the top of the take-out box so she'd feel more a part of our little gathering.

I always get a kick out of seeing people who reside side-by-side in my heart meeting one another and forming their own bonds. Facebook calls it “friends of friends.” Linked In calls it “second or third degree connections.”

I call it simply living the good life.

Seeing with New Eyes

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

I am always amazed at how our bodies adjust to whatever is going on with them. I thought I was seeing fine, even though the optometrist kept telling me that cataracts were growing on both eyes and would eventually have to be removed.

Then I started having trouble driving at night and I couldn’t read street signs even in the daytime. I went to see the eye surgeon and she confirmed that the cataracts on both eyes had advanced beyond the “annoying level” into the “need to be removed level.”

She asked me what kind of vision I would like to have. What! I get to choose my own vision? She explained the options and recommended that I go with mid-vision for distance so that I can still read without glasses. If she had corrected fully for distance, I would have needed reading glasses.

I have had the surgeries on both eyes and it’s truly a miracle! I had forgotten how bright colors are. The numbers on my bedside clock stand out clear and precise. I can read the restaurant sign across the street. And I can now read printed materials at exactly the distance the surgeon had described.

I still can’t drive until I get new glasses, but I can walk around downtown. I can read the newspaper and my computer screen. I can enjoy the bright emerging colors of spring. I am truly enjoying “seeing with new eyes.”

Grief Lingers On

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011


April 6th marked the 14th anniversary of my husband’s death. Fourteen years and I have survived, although I miss him still. Thoughts of him bubble up during unexpected moments – one of his favorite sayings – a familiar gesture – a deep sense of loss. I received an email message this morning from someone I do not know (through the Veriditas Listserve) which aptly captures some of my emotions.

News of Death

Last night they came with news of death
not knowing what I would say.

I wanted to say,
"The green wind is running through the fields
making the grass lie flat."

I wanted to say,
"The apple blossom flakes like ash
covering the orchard wall."

I wanted to say,
"the fish float belly up in the slow stream,
stepping stones to the dead."

They asked if I would sleep that night,
I said I did not know.

For this loss I could not speak,
the tongue lay idle in a great darkness,
the heart was strangely open,
the moon had gone,
and it was then

when I said, "He is no longer here"
that the night put its arms around me
and all the white stars turned bitter with grief

by David Whyle

Decade Birthdays

Friday, March 18th, 2011

My brother Dennis will turn 60 in a few days. The family gathered in Black Hawk for a joyous celebration. Brother Bill and his wife Earlene graciously took me up and helped me get around as it was my first trip there in over fifteen years ñ and things have changed!

We went on Wednesday and had our own time with the Birthday Boy and his wife Claudia that day and, again, Thursday morning before others began arriving. Brothers Ralph, with wife Cheryl, and Roy, with wife Sue, arrived yesterday. Sister Linda was unable to join us due to health problems.

About 1:00 this afternoon (Friday) we all gathered in a room at the Ameristar Hotel. We lit candles on a large cake ñ 6 candles, each representing 10 years ñ and sang Happy Birthday. We basked in our time together and admired the glorious scene of snow on the evergreen trees from our vantage point on the 23rd floor. We brothers and sisters donít always agree with each other 100% (no political discussions by mutual agreement), but we do always love and respect each other.

Now in the quiet of my own home, I am reflecting on the tradition of noting decade birthdays in special ways. I remember aiming to get my doctorate for my 40th birthday. I missed that goal by a few months ñ receiving the Degree in December instead of May of that year, but I was still 40! My sister Linda threw a surprise party for my 50th birthday. We had a great brunch in the Sheraton Hotel in Lakewood with family and close friends. I was awake to greet my 60th birthday at 12:01 a.m., but exhausted, sitting in an airport in Lima, Peru, waiting to return from an inspirational two-week trip featuring Caroline Myss. The family honored that birthday a few weeks later with everyone giving me packages containing 60 of something ñ paperclips, note pads, marbles, stuffed mice, pennies, etc. When I turned 70 last May, Bill, Earlene, and Linda hosted a fabulous party for friends and family. I am truly blessed.

Yes! Letís celebrate life! Letís celebrate each decade and continue to anticipate even greater events and joys as we move into the challenging and unchartered territory of a new age.

The Comforts of Old Age

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Our society tends to discredit any advantages to growing old. We seem to have an inbred cultural fear of looking old, acting old, being old. But, hereís the surprise ñ once you are old you discover much to be grateful for.

Now that I am old, I never wear shoes that are uncomfortable. Ditto for clothing. If itís too tight, too loose, too short, too faded, too ragged, too anything ñ itís zap into the Good Will bag. Itís out of here.

I no longer eat foods that I donít like, just because they are supposedly good for me. I donít eat cucumbers, bell peppers, or radishes. I will try a new recipe or take a chance (once in awhile) and order something different in a restaurant. If I donít like it with the first bite, Iím finished. I have actually asked the server to take the offending dish away and bring a different one ñ something I would never have done in my younger years.

I do not have to finish reading every book I start or continue viewing every movie I tune in to. Some books and movies are boring; some use language that ìhurts my earsî; some have scary scenes that I donít want registered in my subconscious. Put the book down. Turn the movie off.

Speaking my mind comes more easily now. I hope that I continue to be sensitive to the feelings of others, but I donít have much patience left for dealing with what I consider to be a lack of common sense. I am also less argumentative than in past years, so I have cultivated the habit of changing subjects and, sometimes, walking away.

Dressing in comfort, eating what I like, enjoying books and movies, and expressing my true self. Who could ask for more? Life is good!

Cancer Is Cruel

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

When my sister Linda discovered a large mass in one of her breasts last summer, we all hoped for the best. Indeed, the news was first bad. ìYes, she has cancer.î And then good. ìThe cancer is contained in the one breast.î Then bad again. ìChemotherapy for a year. Surgery in about three months.î

As Linda began the chemo treatments she told everyone that she was in denial. This was not happening to her. She was just going through the motions to please the doctors and her family. She has vacillated between denial and depression since then. Her body has protested. It does not like whatever is being pumped into her. She has had constant problems with eating, with digestion, with lack of energy, with depression.

The time came to talk to the surgeon. Last Friday. I was there. Once again, the news was good and bad. The good, ìThe size of the lump has decreased significantly.î The bad. ìThe breast needs to be completely removed.î Linda asked, ìWhat about my other breast?î The doctor replied, ìWe recommend that you have it removed also. True, there is nothing wrong with that breast at the present time, but the odds of developing cancer there are high. Do you want to start this whole process over again?î The good news. ìYou will have a better sense of balance and you will not need radiology treatments.î

Linda moved from the stage of denial into the stage of anger. ìYou told me that if I had chemo for 18 weeks that the lump would be small enough to remove and leave the rest of my breast.î The doctor shook his head a bit, but did not reply. He allowed her to vent more anger ñ anger against him, anger about losing parts of her body, anger against her oncologist, anger against her family, anger about having cancer.

The surgery is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. next Monday. I will be there. Her family will be there. We will come through this together.

Cancer Free: A Miracle

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Claudia is cancer free! When the doctor talked to the family after the surgery, he told us that he was pretty sure all of the cancer was contained in the ovaries he removed, but he took numerous biopsies to have checked to be sure. He actually took a total of 18 biopsies. The results came back today. Not only were these all negative ñ the mass that was removed was also negative. It was a rare type of tumor which had grown to a size larger than a grapefruit and had exhibited some characteristics similar to those of cancer. But the results are complete. No cancer. No chemo.

I also think personally that we have just seen the effects of the power of prayer. We donít know how many people offered up prayers, but a teacher at the school where Claudia had been secretary for the past ten years or so told Denae that 20 school staff members managed to find coverage for their classes and duties and gathered to pray together at 2:00 on Tuesday ñ the time the surgery was scheduled to begin.

Claudia was having a difficult recovery the past couple of days ñ possibly because of the threat of chemo hanging over her. When the doctor told her the results, she got out of bed and went home. ìI donít have cancer. I donít need to be in hospital.î She did have surgery and a large incision, so she will need rest and recovery, but the news obviously gave her strength.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers and your concern.

Cancer Catches Us Unaware

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Iím looking out my windows at the gorgeous orange hues reflecting off the mountains as the sun rises and another day dawns. My scattered thoughts come together into one huge unanswerable question. ìHow can this be?î The title of a YA book I read years ago keeps appearing in my mind. Life. Is. Not. Fair.

My sister-in-law, Claudia, Dennisís wife, has been diagnosed with Stage III Ovarian Cancer. She is undergoing biopsy surgery now ñ as I am writing this. The ìgood newsî will be if the cancer is contained in the ovaries and can be surgically removed. This would, of course, be followed with months of chemo and radiation. The ìbad newsî would be that it is Stage IV meaning it has spread to vital organs inside her body. In that case, there would be no surgery and they would try to keep her comfortable and out of pain for the next couple of months.

Claudia recently celebrated her 55th birthday and retired after serving over twenty years as a middle school librarian in Jefferson County School District. She has been looking forward to a much deserved rest ñ but in the meantime, she has continued to care for her mother who has had breast cancer for more than ten years. Claudia has been there for several bouts of chemo and radiation with Alice who is now in hospice care in her own home. Claudia and Dennis and Denae are the primary care providers.

Why are memories rushing in? The most significant is my trip to Disney World with Claudia and Erica to visit Denae who was working there as a ìcast memberî. Claudia is an organizer. She arranged for our hotel rooms, our meals, our entertainment. I just went along and enjoyed. I did introduce the girls to valet parking when we went out to high tea, however.

Several years ago Linda and I traveled to Durango for Ericaís graduation from massage therapy school. Once again, Claudia had taken care of all the arrangements for our stay and the celebration.

There are many other memories ñ meeting Claudia at the Thompson Valley High School field to watch her son Jonathan in band competitions, stories told with Claudiaís dry sense of humor, family get togethers Ö.

Please join me in prayers for this family ñ Claudia, Dennis, Denae, Erica, and Jonathan.

Choosing to Be a Crone

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

What is a crone? What traits does she possess?

First, I would like to make clear that not all old women are Crones. Becoming a Crone is a conscious choice. It involves a declaration of intent and a positive way of thinking. Of course, we will all continue to age as long as we stay alive, but it is up to each of us to choose the role we will play in this final stage. Will you choose to be a Crone or will you choose to just be an old lady?

What are we committing to if we agree to be crones?

Crones are authentic. We have reached a stage in life where we can truly be ourselves. So what if I have some gray hairs? So what if I have some wrinkles? So what if I have gained a few pounds? So what if I donít fit the prototype of the young woman promoted everywhere I look. I am still me. I have value. I am a vibrant, living, beautiful part of the human race.

Crones accept this final phase of life with joy and anticipation. We accept that although our souls are immortal, no one lives on this plane of existence forever. We have other places to go ñ other realms to explore.

†I love a story that I read in a forwarded internet message some years ago. Seems people were surprised when they viewed the body of an active parishioner during her funeral service. As they looked into the coffin they spotted a fork in her right hand. Perplexed they asked the minister why this was so. He replied that this lady had attended numerous pot luck dinners at the church over the years. She told him that as the dinner plates were removed from the tables, someone would always shout, ìKeep your fork, the best is yet to come!î She had thus asked to be buried with fork in hand.

Crones welcome the mysteries of life. We believe in the magic of existence. Crones know that not everything has an explanation. Some things just are. We trust our insight and intuition in daily living.

Crones are grateful for all of the experiences of our lives. We are thankful for the advantages of our many years, while recognizing that old age is not all strawberries and cream. We have experienced the joys of life, but we have also experienced grief, some of us in great measure. All of us have lost people that are important to us. Many of us have outlived our parents, some have outlived our husbands, some have suffered the tragedy of outliving a child, and all of us have lost friends and mentors. We are sometimes tempted to give in to feeling lonely, even depressed. But Ö

Crones live in the present. For some of us, it is a temptation to live in the past ñ to revel in former accomplishments and happier relationships. And sometimes I get caught in that trap myself. My husband died 13 years ago and not a day goes by that I do not think of him. But when I start getting nostalgic, I endeavor to remember the words of Eckhart Tolle. In The Power of Now, he tells us that dwelling in the past always brings regret ñ thinking about good times that no longer exist evokes feelings of sadness and discontent. Regretting mistakes that cannot be changed results in guilt and frustration. On the other hand, thinking constantly about what the future may hold takes us into a state of worry or consternation. Tolle admonishes to live in the present. All is well in this moment. Celebrate the temporary. †Enjoy the now.

Crones have compassion. We care for others and resist passing judgment on them, realizing that each person is following his or her own path through life. It is not up to us to criticize anotherís journey. We just need to to offer support and encouragement.

Crones live in love. Crones know that the beginning of all love is self-love. We remember the words of Jesus, ìLove your neighbor as you love yourself.î He was telling us that we must first have self love before we can truly express love for others.

We are women. We have within us all of the experiences of life and these experiences have made us who we are. We are survivors. We are strong. We offer a sisterhood of support. †

Life is a journey and we are on the home stretch. Letís cheer each other on.