See how yellow this cartoon is?

The darkest areas are tape that is no longer transparent after a decade.

A cartoon placed on my desk by my colleague Amy when I began blogging.

@2007 Isabella Bannerman. Used by permission.

My colleague Amy clipped this image out of a newspaper ten years ago when she heard I was thinking about becoming a blogger..

For some reason, I kept it.

I could not have known, then, that I would spend a whole semester in close proximity to a group of nuns.

Nor could I have predicted the evolution of subject matter from memoir to joyful aging.

The cartoon heralds another evolution, announcement.

I’ll be blogging less in the next year.

I like my friend Dora Dueck’s term “occasional weblog,” indicating no commitment to regularity but still staying in touch.

After publishing more than 600 posts, usually every week, I’m ready for a different pace.

 I’ll have a new subject: what it’s like to take care of a baby, again.

All of the subject changes of the last decade have been related to each other.

The theme of jubilación has included a sub-theme of grandparenting: “Like leaping into heaven.” 

Six years ago I documented a year (GrannyNanny Diaries) of helping to take care of grandchild #1 while living in Brooklyn for a year.

We are going to repeat that experience with grandchild #3. On August 1 we move to Pittsburgh for a year to help take care of her.

But first, she has to be born. 🙂

Any day now we expect to hear she’s on her way.

We’ll help welcome her home and share those exciting, nervous, first days and nights.

Then we’ll embark on a 12-day Nordic Cruise, followed by a week in Norway.

Expect to hear from me sometime in August, after we’ve taken up residence in a one-bedroom apartment in Pittsburgh, just up the street from Kate and Nik and Lydia.

In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful summer. May it be full of joy and adventure as well as quiet pleasures and rest.

I liked the cartoon so much, I purchased the rights to this color version.

Love to hear from you. If you blog, what does this cartoon say to you at this stage in your development?

And to all: what are you planning to do with your “wild and precious” summer days?

Shirley Showalter


  1. Merril Smith on June 7, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    It sounds like you are off to an adventurous summer, Shirley. I’m sure you will enjoy it!

    • Shirley Showalter on June 7, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      Thank you, Merril. I hope you have a great one too. I have noted your talent for adventure and celebrations!

  2. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on June 7, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    I will miss you, Shirley, but look forward to the “occasional weblog” as Dora puts it. Dora started me blogging and also introduced me to you, for which I am so grateful. As for a lifetime of blogging; blogging has helped me a lot in expressing things about my life that I can use in a memoir. Today I wrote an introduction, most of it culled from my blog posts.

    • Shirley Showalter on June 7, 2017 at 8:34 pm

      How kind, Elfrieda. I too am grateful to Dora for connecting us and for being such a great model of blogger/author.

      How exciting that you are able to use your blog posts as fodder for your memoir. You have an amazing story, and blogging is a very good way to begin to hone the craft of writing. I hope you have a very productive summer. Will see you again in August!

  3. April Yamasaki on June 7, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    I love the cartoon, and the way your blog and life continue to grow and change, Shirley. Enjoy your cruise and the new rhythm of life with grandchild #3. See you in August!

    • Shirley Showalter on June 8, 2017 at 8:03 am

      Thanks, April. The cartoon applies to you also. One of the benefits of meeting people in the blogosphere is that evolution is visible to all. Love how you manage the sacred spaces between ministry and writing. Happy summer!

  4. Tina Barbour on June 7, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    Blessings to you all as you welcome baby Lydia. I hope all goes well. Have a wonderful time on the cruise and traveling. There is definitely an ebb and flow in blogging. Sometimes it’s energizing, sometimes it seems a burden. But I wouldn’t want to have missed making the friends that I have, including you.

    • Shirley Showalter on June 8, 2017 at 8:06 am

      Thank you, Tina. How sweet of you to include me in your gratitude, as I include you in mine.

      I know you have traveled the same path of evolving while listening to your own spirit and to the needs of those you love most, especially your husband and furry friends.

  5. Lisa Enqvist on June 8, 2017 at 12:39 am

    I truly enjoy reading your blogs and have been encouraged by your comments many times. I have not been blogging on a regular basis. Life has brought too many interruptions. I can relate to the cartoon anyway, changing it to devoting to “lifetime of memory writing.” Now I’m glad to say I now have a mentor/editor who will help me develop my memoir.
    We are expecting our eleventh grandchild in September, but I am physically handicapped, so they can’t expect any help from me. Happily, the other grandmother of the baby already lives close to the family.
    Have a great voyage across the Atlantic to the fjords of Norway.
    I’m sure today’s cruises are far more enjoyable than our many ship journeys in the 1940s to 1960s. (Ten ships took me around the world between 1945-1953.)

    • Shirley Showalter on June 8, 2017 at 8:10 am

      I am so glad you have found sustenance here, Lisa. And I’m glad you felt free to play with the language of the cartoon. It works for many of our passions and commitments in life.

      So glad to hear you have found a mentor/editor you trust. I hope you tell that amazing story of the ten ships and the long journey. You can call it Around the World in Eight Years!

      All best!

  6. Lois Kauffman on June 8, 2017 at 7:20 am

    Foreshadowing for sure!! Sounds like you have many good things to look forward to! Blessings for your family as you await your new precious family Arrival!

    Our past dream trip to Alaska with Holland America was magical in every way… hope yours is as well!

    We will miss both of you… I am looking forward to more grandchildren fun this summer, and am planning some adventures with them…also exploring and continue painting with both oils and watercolor….I got to paint with my class on a beautiful mountain farm, a highlight of May!!

    Am looking forward to ‘Love is a Verb’ convention too. That will bring back fond childhood memories into adulthood.

    Many regards!!

    • Shirley Showalter on June 8, 2017 at 8:13 am

      Thank you, Lois. We will miss you, too. After almost seven years here, the Shenandoah Valley feels like home. But as you know, home is also a portable commodity, at least for a while.

      Thanks for the good wishes on the cruise. It will be a first. We have heard good things about this line.

      You are so full of energy and enthusiasm. Enjoy the conference and all that you have planned for these precious summer months.

  7. Richard Stuart Gilbert on June 8, 2017 at 8:56 am

    After almost nine years of blogging myself, that cartoon is most eloquent. In the last year I’ve gone from weekly posts to more occasional ones. I wish I could say this has been planned, but it’s been a response to my preparing to move to Virginia this summer. That involves grandchildren—two, as of Monday—as well as part-time teaching. All this ahead of my wife. Big life changes.

    How exciting for you to have a third baby to share, and such stimulating travels and relocations! Best wishes, and I’ll look for you here in time.

    • Shirley Showalter on June 8, 2017 at 9:15 am

      We are like ships in the night, Richard. You are arriving as we are leaving.

      All best to you and Kathy in the midst of many changes. At the very least, they keep life interesting and exciting. And almost always, they teach us something new.

      One of these days, we will meet in Virginia! I have so appreciated your blog posts over these many years, your published memoir, and the essays you publish online.

  8. Marian Beaman on June 8, 2017 at 9:39 am

    This cartoon – spot on, serendipitous too! I will share it with hubby, my own Clifftoonist.

    Next week my blog post # 365 publishes, so I can imagine I would be ready for a less stringent publishing regimen when I ge to my 600th, if not before.

    I too look forward to some milestones, one bittersweet – the other with wild abandon: first, the sale of the Longenecker homestead in a few weeks and then our golden wedding anniversary celebration in British Columbia and Alberta. I yearn to see the Canadian Rockies once again. Bon voyage to you and yours also: The short “canal” trip of baby Lydia and your planned cruise.

    As the nuns may say, “Bless you, my child.”

    • Shirley Showalter on June 8, 2017 at 10:48 am

      You have such a graceful, language-loving way of commenting, Marian.

      Hope the sale day brings with it a sense of completion and job well done, with Aunt Ruth and Mother and all the Longeneckers who lived in or near the house smiling on you and your sisters.

      I love that you are going to Canada to celebrate 50 years. The Baltic Sea Cruise is a celebration of Harley and Sadie Showalters’ 50 years together. And in two years, Stuart and I are hoping to take our whole family to our own honeymoon site: Nova Scotia, all the way on the other side of Canada.

      Thanks, especially, for the canal trip blessing to Lydia. As you can imagine, she and her mother are much on my mind.

      Bless you too.

  9. Melodie Davis on June 8, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Crossing the Atlantic on a ship has got to be exciting–and perhaps relaxing as it lulls you into another world.

    I recognize the underlying thought of the cartoon–and over summer here I’m feeling a need to tie up tomatoes and pick strawberries and hoe the corn–instead of keeping my nose to the computer early mornings and evenings. For sure! We have a couple of planned get togethers with grands this summer and may make a tiny water 40th anniversary voyage to Tangier Island that got canceled last summer (their cancellation) due to storms.

    Always enjoy your posts and appreciate when you have time to comment on mine but yes, life is much bigger than blogging and we all do well to remember the truth of that cartoon.

    • Shirley Showalter on June 8, 2017 at 11:21 am

      Thanks for adding these thoughts, Melodie. I always appreciate when you take a moment between tomatoes and strawberries to add a comment. And I know we are juggling similar sets of priorities. And you have a full-time job on top of all else!

      The Baltic Cruise doesn’t cross the Atlantic. It will start when we fly to Copenhagen. We’ll return from there also.

      Hope you get to Tangier Island this summer. Maybe you recall this post?

  10. Lucinda J on June 8, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Hmmm. I find the cartoon uncannily accurate indeed.

    Enjoy your “wild and precious summer.” Love those words! I will be visiting Pittsburgh as well, in two days of mine. I leave the day that you arrive.

    • Shirley Showalter on June 8, 2017 at 11:25 am

      Another near miss! Hope you enjoy your time in Pittsburgh, Lucinda.

      And just for visitors who may not know the famous lines you loved and I quoted, here’s the whole poem, quite appropriate for all of us, I think:

      The Summer Day
      Who made the world?
      Who made the swan, and the black bear?
      Who made the grasshopper?
      This grasshopper, I mean-
      the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
      the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
      who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
      who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
      Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
      Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
      I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
      I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
      into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
      how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
      which is what I have been doing all day.
      Tell me, what else should I have done?
      Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
      Tell me, what is it you plan to do
      with your one wild and precious life?
      —Mary Oliver

      From the Library of Congress blog.

  11. Audrey Denecke on June 8, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    I will certainly miss your regular blogs. I too am grateful to you for all you have gifted to me as a writer and “jubilee’r” in life.
    I know being with your new grandchild will bring in even more joy and energy. What could be of higher value?
    I hope your blog will remain open so I may revisit past posts and will look forward to your occasional new ones.
    Please do let us know when you may be published elsewhere.
    So, very happy for you.
    Hugs, Audrey

    • Shirley Showalter on June 8, 2017 at 6:32 pm

      Thanks for your kind words, Audrey. I’m so glad to know you’ve found gifts here. The website and blog will both stay “up” and “live.” One thing that happens when you have blogged for so many years on so many topics: certain posts attract readers every day. My guess is that the blog will continue to get about 100 visitors even when the most recent post is a few weeks or even a few months old.

      One selfish reason I blog is that these things are searchable. Often I look for a quote or a photo I remember using and “voila” the little magnifying glass brings it up in seconds. It’s like an electronic scrapbook. Social media and hard copy don’t have these advantages.

      I’ll definitely keep you informed, and thanks for being so empathetic.

  12. Dora Dueck on June 8, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    I’m so glad this is not an announcement that you’re quitting altogether, but simply less. Since you mentioned me, I’ll take the opportunity to say a wee something about my own transitions in blogging, as well as interface with yours. This year I’ve been reading/organizing my journals and recently reached 2009, when I first began to blog. It took me back to how vulnerable I felt, how tumultuous it seemed at the time, how self-conscious I was about it all, checking my stats, trying to get 2 or 3 posts in a week and so on. (Love the cartoon.) Over the years, my priorities shifted, with less emphasis on what I was all doing, to occasional “I’m still here” verification posts. 🙂
    I’ve observed that during these years blogging itself, as a medium (and how it’s used), and even my own reading of blogs (more often on account of FB links) has shifted. Yes, life, a continual process of shift and adaptation… I do regret that I never quite found a theme or focus such as you did (memoir, jubilacion), but nevertheless, it was a kind of platform, which I was told, every writer needs.
    In my journals I also discovered that at one point I had gone back through your memoir posts and took notes on your learnings, for my own learning. Thank you for your teaching on that, and since then, on matters of aging. I can’t tell you how often I’ve quoted your mission statement to others, as a way of speaking about how I see the next stage of life.
    All this to say: 1. thank you for your blog 2. it makes complete sense to me that you would shift course 3. I look forward to reading whatever you (still) post down the road. Many blessings to you and yours!

    • Shirley Showalter on June 8, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      Thank you so much for this interesting overview, Dora, of your own experience and of how you have used my blog posts.

      Yes to the nervous first days. I still have a notebook full of Google analytics on my blogs. Ha! I looked for them and couldn’t find them. I don’t bother with any of that stuff now.

      Your posts may not be frequent but they are ALWAYS worth reading, Dora. I chose you as a model for both reasons. 🙂

  13. susan scott on June 8, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    This is altogether very exciting Shirley! Thank you for keeping us in the loop of upcoming adventures! All good wishes for the arrival of the new baby, Lydia! And to Mother Kate and Father Nik. May she tread lightly upon the earth, meet joy with joy, peace and love in her heart and all those around her .. how wonderful to spend a year with her in Pittsburgh beginning August!

    And have the most wonderful time sailing the oceans to Norway … be safe, be well, have fun – and I look forward to your return ….

    • Shirley Showalter on June 8, 2017 at 7:03 pm

      Susan, you pay attention to names and spirits. Thank you for that. I love this blessing and hope to share it with Kate and Nik.

      I wish you a set of wonderful adventures also and hope to check in soon to see what you have been up to!

  14. Loretta Willems on June 8, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Love the cartoon, Shirley,definitely a LOL response–otherwise known as “recognition reflex,” my own history of keeping a “blog” that is not really a “blog.”

    I finally completed the family history memoir that was the intended outcome of my blog sites. The title is The Gift of Laughter: the Story of a California Mennonite. It’s available on Amazon. My website has the link. It’s worth looking at just to see the beautiful cover.

    Re aging and assessing one’s life: I turned 79 last January 1. This book is the completion of the desire to tell this story that formed in my early twenties. Next January I shall start monthly posts of part two of this Mennonite saga, my own personal story of living with, wrestling with a valued religious heritage.

    Blessings on this next venture in you life’s journey. I look forward to reading those occasional posts.

    • Shirley Showalter on June 8, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      Loretta, I went to look for your book right away. Congratulations for this wonderful accomplishment. Here’s the link so that others can enjoy the lovely cover and intriguing description.

      I love that you published your book at the age of 79 and that you are still publishing the sequel. This is proof of jubilación. Thank you so much for sharing this good news and for your good wishes. I return them to you.

  15. Laurie Buchanan on June 8, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    Shirley — I, too, LOVE the cartoon! And I’m excited for read more about “Granny Nanny Round Two.” Clearly, you’re going to have ANOTHER time of your life!

    • Shirley Showalter on June 8, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      It takes one to know one, right Laurie? And yes, I am anticipating joy!

  16. Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler on June 8, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    Shirley, Your blogs have showered us with many wonderful questions and conversations, and I have enjoyed soaking them up. Blessings as you share your humor,presence and intentionality with your family, especially with those in the younger generation. May you continue glimpsing heaven and eternity, and I look forward to hearing about a few of those moments. Peace, Paz, Shalom, Salaam, Shanti…..

    • Shirley Showalter on June 8, 2017 at 7:15 pm

      Thank you so much, Dolores. I’m so glad we met through this blog and now have a connection of friendship with you that we would never have had otherwise. Thanks so much for your good wishes. Your use of the word “shalom” reminded me of the wonderful talk given by Karin Larson Krisetya at her son’s graduation this year.

      • Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler on June 8, 2017 at 9:05 pm

        What a wonderful pairing of Shalom and Transition. Reminds me the process of Discernment, which my Discipleship group focused on these last few months.

        • Shirley Showalter on June 9, 2017 at 9:25 am


  17. June on June 8, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    On the other side of the screen there are people like me. People who enjoy reading certain blogs, getting responses back from the author. Connecting. Today we do this through the internet, years ago, the mail. We still connect through the telephone, although that technology, has aloud us to carry our phones with us.
    Patience as you await the arrival of you grandchild.
    To a ‘pen pal’ blessings to you this summer.

    • Shirley Showalter on June 8, 2017 at 7:18 pm

      June, I love your image of blogging as screen with two sides. Thank you. Pen pals we are!

      And that word patience is just the one our family needs right now. Thank you for that also.

  18. Joan Z. Rough on June 10, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Shirley, I also love the cartoon and am having similar thoughts about blogging. Making changes in ones life is so important and keeps us always in the moment, whether difficult or easy. We need newness to keep us breathing fresh air.

    How wonderful for you to take the time to recognize and do the important things that keep life joyful and filled with laughter. I know you are going to have a marvelous year, one day at time.

    • Shirley Showalter on June 10, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      Thanks, Joan. You and I are in the same “cohort” as bloggers and authors and human beings with other needs and a limited time horizon.

      We will continue to respond to the call of our spirits. Thank you so much for your good wishes. I return the same to you.

  19. Carol on June 11, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Shirley, As you know, I’ve become a less-than-occasional blogger these days. I feel a tad guilty from time to time, as though it’s something I “should” be doing but understand if I don’t get anything out of the writing, readers aren’t likely to get anything out of the reading.

    My attention has turned to visual arts. Pastels at the moment and also visual journaling. (There’s that writing thing again.) Don’t know where this will lead, but expect to enjoy the journey.

    This summer, I’m also volunteering as a reading mentor in a program United Way sponsors in Des Moines elementary schools. A first for me. I’m excited to start Monday.

    I’m grateful that you and I stay in touch with old-fashioned phone calls. What a concept.

    • Shirley Showalter on June 12, 2017 at 3:34 pm

      Ha! The phone is our friend indeed. So glad we have ways to stay in touch as we evolve, Carol. Our interests are so closely aligned. Can’t wait to see your various creative projects. I’m sure you’ll share them. The blog will wait until the time is right.

  20. Sharon Lippincott on June 18, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    I’m late to the show, but congratulations all around ─ on Lydia’s birth, your decision to move to the Burgh, the cruise you have planned, and also on your decision to join what I’m thinking of as the Elderbloggers. That would be those of us with hundreds of posts under our belts who are opting for intuitive blogging rather than systematic.

    I hope your time in Pittsburgh is joyful, as I’m sure it will be. Sorry I’m no longer there to share a few coffees.

    Best of everything and lots of Texas size hugs to all of you!

    • Shirley Showalter on June 18, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      I thought of you when we drove past the place where we met the first time, Sharon.

      “Intuitive blogging.” I like that term.

      Thank you for knowing so well our joy right now and a big Texas-size hug to you also.

  21. Elaine Mansfield on June 22, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Wonderful changes, Shirley. I’m blogging every other week now and that feels right. I enjoy the short form and I also enjoy working with my photographs. Meanwhile, my son and his partner moved close to me from CA, so I have family three miles away. We’re gardening together. Often preparing food together, more and more the good we’ve grown as summer progresses, also working on the flower gardens together. I’m helping them with a rescue dog who is a sweetheart and best buddies with my dog. This is all so important after nine years of living far from family.

    I’m also writing about family, but also about the teachings about grief in ancient mythology. And I continue with Hospice and bereavement work. All this feels important, plus more time to watch the birds fledge. I saw the bluebird babies fly and it was thrilling. Blessings on the baby. Since I’m behind, I see that the baby is here. Now on to read that post. With blessings and love as we all figure out what matters most to us.

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