Aug 31, 2011


G is for Gabaldon

One of my favorite authors is Diana Gabaldon. She wrote the Outlander series of books. The following is a synopsis of  when the first book Outlander was written and what it is about.

The first published novel by Dr. Gabaldon introduces Claire Beauchamp Randall, an English ex-combat army nurse, who travels to the Scottish Highlands on a second Honeymoon with her husband Frank after World War II. While exploring a circle of standing stones, Claire touches a cleft stone in the center of the circle and is transported through time to 1743. Once there she is immediately taken by a British Army Officer and then abducted by a band of runaway Scots. They are not sure if she is a spy or damsel in distress. They decide for their safety they must keep her with them. She is taken deeper into the Highlands and away from the stone. For her protection she later decided to marry a young highlander James Fraser. She is caught up in 18th century life and her inner struggle to remain with James ,whom she has fallen in love with, or find her way back to the stone where she can return to 1946 and her husband Frank. Claire and Jamie's lives, as they are woven through time, are the foundation for the Outlander series.

I have read all five of the Outlander series and loved each one. The premise of time travel fascinated me from the beginning. As I finished each book, I was excited to begin the next one. I like romance, but there is so much more in these novels. There is history that takes you from England to the United States. I highly recommend them. Obtain a copy of Outlander or check it out from the library and get immersed in the story of Claire and Jamie.

Here is the entire series of books.

I must edit my piece on Gabaldon's series Outlander. I discovered another book in the series An Echo in the Bone. I haven't read this one so I am looking forward to reading it and adding it to my collection.

Susie Clevenger

ABC Wednesday Prompt G is for


Whine and Cookies

I have a Facebook friend, Ashley, with whom I share whining sessions. I really like to refer to them as creative complaining. One of us will start whining and the other will think of a comedic return to toss back.  Both of us are poets so some of our whines come from that genre. For example: I complain I don't think I am very good when I read the work of others... wait I shall refrain on his response. You know the "excuse my french" sort. He did manage to talk me off of poetry's ledge before I fell into self pity's lake. 

Ashley likes to refer to me as "aged fine whine."  You know a full bodied, well preserved complaint that is served with a biting tongue. Although his rejoinder to this type of complaint will have me giggling and the complaint becomes silly. 

Ashley and I meet in the Facebook lounge for whining and conversation. I think I shall suggest we serve cookies with our dessert whines. I could then have him experience my hyper gripes. I am a tad adhd . Sugar would give me excessive energy to make our sessions more entertaining or longer. Hmmm...I am thinking he would then be happy he is in world far away from mine.

Kidding aside I am happy to have a friend who helps with the gift of laughter. Ashley has me seeing my whines with a comedic eye. It diffuses my sour attitude with a smile. Cheers Ashley! Looking forward to more meetings where we serve whine and cookies!

Aug 30, 2011

Poetry & Prose Magazine

I was honored to be included in the September 2011 issue of Poetry & Prose magazine. This issue has a music theme. My poem's Blue's Baptism and Guitar Man were the editor's choices for the issue.


Aug 26, 2011

I am in Hell

Hey Guys, 

Well I have been told to go to Hell  so I took the trip. It is a lovely place, blue skies, blue water. There is that rough terrain to traverse when you wish to get closer to the shore, but what is a walk through Hell without at least some minor abrasions. 
I did some souvenir shopping. Hades has quite a mark up on its merchandise. It seems the Devil has a deal with China to stock his shops. Buy Cheap..Sell high...
I must run. My tour bus is about to leave. Hell is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live here.

See you soon,

P. S. Who would have thought Hell was in Grand Cayman....

Written from Prompt: Postcards home
Free Write Friday..Magic in the Backyard


Life Knocks You Down

There are so many times life knocks you down. The pain hits you and you just want to fall to your knees and never rise back up. Yet you can't live this way. The survivor instinct won't let you give up. At least that is the truth in my life. I just can't wallow in self pity. There is this voice inside of me that says, "Get back to your feet.
Giving up is not in your character."

I have seen my share of pain. I suffered serious injuries in a car accident in 2006. I was crumpled and broken and literally getting up to my feet was so painful. It was a whole year of baby steps to get back to "my" normal. But there has been emotional pain far worse than physical. I haven't the words to describe the pain of watching your children suffer. You would give anything if you could take their pain on yourself to free them from their agony.

My oldest daughter, Dawn, was diagnosed with kidney cancer in November of 2008. On November 5, 2008 she had her left kidney removed. I had such grief in me that she was going to have to face another health crisis when she had suffered so many over the years. I didn't know how I could be strong for her when I felt so weak.

I just followed the lessons Dawn had taught me through the years. She is one of the strongest women I have ever known. Illness had devastated her body numerous times, but she wouldn't give up. She had goals and dreams. She worked when she was so ill she could barely stand to see her husband through college. When it was her time to go for her college degree, she battled illness, worked two part time jobs, and went to school full time. She graduated cum laude with a Political Science/Journalism degree in 2007.

Dawn had taught me how to get back up. I couldn't fail my child when she needed me. I stuffed all my fears and doubts inside and stepped out in faith I could be strong for her.

The left kidney was removed and it was hoped that it hadn't traveled anywhere else in her body. Tests had shown some suspicious nodules in her right lung. Three weeks later  they were surgically removed and later diagnosed as a fungus. She was cancer free. There are checks every four months to make sure cancer is not showing up, but she has been fine. In fact, her health is better than it has been in years.

Yes life will knock you down. We can not escape pain or heartbreak. It is all in how we get back up. Sugarland has a song titled "Stand Back Up." It means so much to me. I listen to it often and let its words sink into my spirit. Self pity will not get a foothold in me. I will stand back up!

I will stand back up,
you'll know just the moment
when I've had enough,
sometimes I'm afraid
and I don't feel that tough,
but I'll stand back up.

Aug 23, 2011

My Photography

I love taking my camera out to capture whatever catches my eye. I never plan what I am going to take. I just know there will be something I need to shoot. I thought I would share a few examples and perhaps in the process I may even see something in the photograph I missed. They always have a story to tell.


I took this photograph at the apartment where my father was living before he passed away. It was in May and everything was blooming. I can't even tell you what kind of flower it is. I was just enthralled by its beauty. Tiny ruffles gathered on a stem.

I took this one in Beaumont, TX. It was outside a theater turned bar called The Gig. The beauty of the neon against the darkness seemed to be the iconic symbol for entertainment. Bright lights gathering entertainer and those who wished to be entertained.

This picture was taken at the Gibson guitar factory in Memphis, TN. There was a banquet facility upstairs and the first floor and the stairway leading up to the banquet hall were decorated in silver streamers and blue balloons. I felt the anticipation for the event just standing there and viewing my surroundings. As I took the picture I was thinking of all the history in the streets outside the building. Music fills every part of the city. Even though I wasn't attending the function I felt I for just a few moments I was part of the celebration.

Wandering the streets of Fredericksburg TX, I came across a music store. I can not play a thing musically except my ipod, but I am a lover of music so I went inside. The number of guitars in the store fascinated me. I saw the rows of acoustic guitars and took this shot. It is actually one of my favorite pictures. 

Charlie and I love to go for drives. We have no certain destination. We just hop in the car and head whichever direction wins the lottery for the day. This picture was taken at the Trinity River Waterbird Rookery. It is a section of swamp set aside as a sanctuary for waterbirds. There were cypress trees growing throughout the rookery. They reminded me of ancient ladies in long dresses exuding their southern charm.

I will roam around my house with my camera to catch the familiar decor in my rooms at whatever angle that intrigues me. This picture is of a chandelier hanging in one of my guest bedrooms. It is lit by votive candles. The patina of the metal and grace of the crystals give an antique feel although the piece is modern.

One sunset evening I was out in my backyard with my camera and I looked up at the hummingbird feeder and  saw the sun through it. It was almost as though the sunbeams had been captured and placed inside the bottle.

I took this one at the Houston Zoo. I liked looking down the length of the railing. I guess you could say it was taken from the perspective of someone's hand upon the railing as they walked through the exhibit.

I love taking pictures of doors. There seems to be so much character in a doorway. I wonder who has entered and exited, what stories lie behind the doorway. This picture was taken at Maas Nursery in Seabrook TX. It reminded me of a door to an old English cottage.

This was taken in my backyard. I saw a wasp flying around a potted mum and snapped this shot. This photograph was actually on the morning weather program on KPRC in Houston. Charlie submitted it to Anthony Yanez, the morning weatherman, and he picked it to be displayed.

I have thousands of pictures and could spend days writing about them. Searching through my pictures to post these few brought back so many memories. Pictures tell a story. They are a visual journal. I can view them and recall where each was taken, but more than that the poet in me hears their verses. 

Aug 19, 2011

Pondering Poe

"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
 over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore" ~ The Raven~ Edgar Allan Poe

I remember when I first read Edgar Allan Poe. I became fascinated. His dark poetry struck the dark chords within me. It seemed I identified with the pain I felt in his writing. His poems joined with my own haunted persona. Secrets rapped against my peace with the fear of what their revelation might bring. Poe somehow gave me a voice.

I began writing poetry because of my love of Poe. I could use verses to express what my lips feared speaking. Dark night and the moon were often my companions as I lay not sleeping. It was a perfect cauldron to stir my imagination.

My first poem to ever gain any notice was one I titled Nightfall. It was written from the darkness of sexual abuse. I had been hiding the secret for years. I had written the poem and placed it in an English folder for my freshman English class. I had meant to remove it, but I forgot and it was included with my outline of Julius Caesar. My teacher, Mrs. Kilgore, asked me if I had written it. When I told her that I had in fact penned it, she asked if she could have it. She wanted to submit it to a publication titled "Missouri Youth Writes."  She submitted it and it was later published. I was so proud.

That poem began what I term "my pencil therapy." I was able to write out some of the darkness in me. I still hadn't revealed my painful secret to anyone, but having a voice for the pain granted me some freedom. I think,   no I know, writing saved my life. When things became too dark for me, I sought the light of my pen.

Yes it seems Poe was my super hero, my savior. He gave me courage to speak and poetry became my voice. So many refer to his darkness. I can testify of the illumination he gave to my spirit. I shall be forever grateful for the writings of Edgar Allan Poe.


As the curtain falls
On the world’s idiocy
You will find me sitting
In the audience not asking
For nor wanting an encore
I sit for a few moments
While the curtain of darkness
Envelops me then I run for
An exit that will take me
Away from everything
That resembles reality

The darkness extends
Its soft beautiful hand
And leads me into a
World where I don’t have
Any questions and I seek no solutions

The velvety curtain protects
Me from evil until it has
To leave me and rise on the world again
But with the first signs of the inevitable dawn
I cower in my corner and
Try not to see the world
That’s revolving around me

I wait until it is time for
The curtain to fall and I know
The darkness will take me
Once again into a world of unreality

©Carol Crouch (Susie Clevenger)

Aug 8, 2011

My Authenticity

I have struggled with my imperfections. I have spent too much time wishing I could be or look more like someone else. I have been good at hiding it, but in my times alone tears have come too frequently. My insecurity formulates negative opinions not only about myself, but others.

The time has come for me to celebrate who "I" am. I am a loud bundle of energy with a big heart. You can expect noise and spontaneity My connection to others should be based on my own authenticity. I should not conform to another's standard merely for acceptance. You would think at my age I would have learned that lesson, but it seems I am still in the classroom.

As this year has been one of endings I seek to walk into new beginnings. The dynamic of my roots in past pain has to change. I am working on me this time.

Aug 6, 2011

August's Burn

It is a hot Texas Saturday. Usually August is the top of the thermometer for heat, but we have been living in the furnace for days already. As we are in the peak for hurricane season I dread what may be lurking off the coast of Africa.

This year also has been one for life lived in the furnace. Not only has death made too numerous visits, but my daughters are facing their own fires. For whatever reason the stars aligned for both of them to be in a time of endings. They both face divorce. I wish to be comfort and support, but often words fail me. I have so much I would like to say, but I keep silent. I have my own anger at what has been done by their husbands. I can't seem to be as forgiving as my daughters. They are my children and my mother's instincts to protect has me wanting to bare my claws.

Ironic that born in the August heat of 1970 was my marriage to my husband Charlie. This is the forty first year of our marriage on August 28th. We have weathered so many storms. Illness, financial, loss has sent its storm clouds over the years, but we have held on. I can't compare our situation to another's. We have had our own journey. Just as there are reasons for our marriage's stability there are reasons for marriage's endings in others.

I pray all of us get through this August heat. May we all rise from its flames better people.

Aug 3, 2011

Does Laundry Mate?

Have you ever wondered if your laundry has the ability to mate? I checked my laundry basket yesterday and except for the usual underwear and socks its contents was rather meager. This morning it looks like its sides had exploded. Jeans, shirts, sheets and towels lay scattered like the aftermath of a fraternity party.

Maybe I should do a stake-out one night. I could get evidence that there was a laundry mixer going on that resulted in various laundry items getting high on perspiration from my husband's sweaty shirt... a pair of blue jeans being attracted to a pair of cut-offs and their hook up creating denim capris... Wait! I think the perspiration is getting to ME!

(I wrote this a few years back. I thought it would be fun to re-post it.)

© Copyright Susie Clevenger 2011

Aug 2, 2011

and she said.....

"a man doesn’t
    complete you
          he compliments you"

"coffee makes
          Monday’s tolerable"

"wine can be truth serum..
             drink wisely "  

"dance is the freedom
       to step outside the box"

"the mirror is a liar..
      don’t believe a thing it says"

 "laughter is a light
        in the darkness"

"music is a friend
         that is always there for you"

"poetry allows the soul
                           to speak"

"it doesn’t matter if you don't have 
                    a beautiful voice..just sing"

"chocolate is delicious sin"

© Copyright Susie Clevenger 2011

Aug 1, 2011

A Collector of Notebooks

Since I began writing poetry in earnest the end of 2009 I have become a collector of notebooks. I have beautiful journals to write in, but I have placed spiral notebooks all over the house and in my vehicles. Call it silly but I just can't scribble in a lovely journal. There is something about defacing it with my illegible writing.

Inspiration can hit me at any time. I have decided to be prepared. I have written some of my favorite poems on wrinkled, spiraled paper. Plus the ambiance of coffee stains makes me feel more like that eccentric creator.

School supplies are out now and I find myself perusing the aisles of pens and notebooks. I always have that feeling when the new school year is on the horizon I should be learning something. I mass supplies like it is disaster preparedness. I must prepare to learn. In my case it seems I am learning more and more by observing.

Yes, I am a collector of notebooks. I dream that one day those poems birthed on  notebook lines will become a book. Poetry has become my joy and passion. There are times I doubt my talent, but I don't stop dreaming. I just pick up my pen and write on.