Susan McCorkindale

Author. Editor. Autism Advocate.

Posts Tagged ‘500 Acres and No Place to Hide’


Why do I keep keys?

Behold, my desk drawer. An ordinary desk drawer filled with pens, post-it notes, highlighters, flash drives the contents of which have been long forgotten, and keys. Lots of keys.

Behold, my key chain. An ordinary key chain containing all the keys I need. Car key, house keys, boyfriend’s house key, and the key to my mailbox.  If all the keys I need are here, and they are, then what, pray tell, are those reproducing near my paper clips?

Do they represent plants I promised to water?

Mail I offered to bring in?

A dog I said I’d let out?

I doubt it. If they did, I’d have heard about it by now. Those keys have been in my desk drawer for years, from my time on the farm, to my former husband’s house, to my apartment in town, to the condo I live in today but, unlike the barrettes and hair bands in my bathroom,

I simply can’t recall where they came from.

I do, however, know what I’m going to do with them. I’m saving them, along with the clips, hair bands, and hundreds of bobby pins I discovered cowering in a Tupperware container last week when I started this “Why do I keep this stuff?” series, in a pretty box I’ve labeled Weird Writing Prompts. Clearly, that’s what they are and, as I look around this place with an eye toward more cleaning out and de-cluttering, I know two things:

  1. This series is far from over and
  2. I’m gonna need a bigger box.

#weirdwritingprompts #whydoikeepthisstuff




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Lovely Caskets Sold Here

Here we are in pretty, sunny, really hot Roatan, with its teal green, bathwater warm water, palm trees, bright pink and orange flowers, and two emerald green humming birds buzzing around while I write this. I’ll have to share pictures later as the husband has taken the camera on his first deep sea dive of the day. Sometimes I feel like I married Flipper. He and his fishing pole and spear come in handy, though. Yesterday he caught a gorgeous tuna, then he and Jill whipped it up Bonefish Grill style and served it for dinner. Fantastic.

Speaking of dinner, we’re all taking turns making it and the other night was Chris and my turn. I know, I know. My turn. Ha. Chris cooked (penne, pesto, chicken, huge dollops of Ricotta cheese mushed all around. Heaven.), I made the table look pretty and poured wine, and Don set his camera up on a ten second timer so he could get this picture of all of us.


Quite the crew, no? Let me tell you, we can eat! It’s our turn again tonight, and Chris is, I mean, we are, making burgers and brats, and cornbread and salad. My role is to chill the wine, test it, and test it some more. Roger that!

Just to catch you up, we arrived in Roatan late yesterday. It took us two tries and, ultimately, twelve cold, rainy, choppy hours to go from Placencia to Utila, twelve hours I spent trying not to be sick and reading, reading, reading.  DSCN0223

Utila, as it turns out, is a pit. Stray dogs, poverty, the opportunity to at any moment be killed by a screaming ATV or moped or teeming garbage truck. It saddened me, made me grateful for my life, and frankly, I couldn’t wait to get out of there. We did happen upon some funny signs. One said “All Americans Must Be Accompanied By An Adult,” and the other, well, hopefully you can read it in the silly picture below.

coffin 1

“Lovely Caskets Are Sold Here Also Cheaper Coffins All With Their Straps

I’m telling you, Utila is a deathtrap. But when you die, no worries. They’ve got big bargains on coffins. And please do get me one with all the straps.

We all felt the same way about Utila, so we sailed to Roatan yesterday afternoon. Like I said, it’s beautiful and I’ll happily show you photos once I steal the camera from Chris (who’s still out doing his Jacques Cousteau thing). I’ve been sitting with Jill and Don and Non-Paul for hours now at Cafe Escondido, so if you ever come to the Bay Islands, please pay them a visit. The sandwiches are delicious, the iced coffee refreshing, and the WiFi plentiful. They’re also really patient and don’t seem to care that we’ve been camped out here since sunrise.

Time to get up, take a stroll, a swim, and do a little  (more) sunbathing. I come home Monday, but I hope to write again tomorrow. I’m going to miss Roatan, my new friends on DragonFly, and my husband. Chris will stay with the boat until it reaches San Blas, Panama, but I need to return early.  Love you, handsome, for figuring out how I could come along for a few days. It hasn’t been easy – I’m an awful sailor and being seasick stinks – but it’s totally been worth it. What an experience.

Until tomorrow then!


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Do you DeJaVu? Now there’s one more reason to!


DeJaVu 43 Main Street, Warrenton

It’s rare that I leave DeJaVu, the adorable consignment shop at 43 Main Street in Warrenton, without a fabulous Michael Kors bag or Ann Taylor top in my hands. It’s even rarer that I leave without buying jeans  (I’m a total jeans hoarder), and something, anything, a scarf, skirt, pair of shoes, or belt in my favorite color: beige.  If you’ve been there, you know why I think the store’s so terrific. And if you’ve been there lately, then you know why my enthusiasm has reached a whole new level. DeJaVu is now carrying signed copies of 500 Acres And No Place To Hide, More Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl. So go in and do a little shopping. Pick up something Chanel, Armani, or Boden, and of course a good book. And tell Alison and Sandra Susan sent you. Thanks!

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Perfect for your beach bag (and your friend’s)

beach chair yellow

My beach bag is a mess. In it I’ve got a sticky tube of sunblock, melted lip balm, bug spray from 2009, broken hair clips, over-stretched hair bands, a comb missing several teeth, a brush that could be worn as a wig, crumpled (but not used) tissues, band-aids that have long since lost their ability to aid anybody, and several paperback books filled with sand.  Two of those books, believe it or not, are the ones I’ve written. I like to walk up to women who are sitting on the beach reading and say, “Forgive me for interrupting, but I just finished this and it’s a terrific summertime read. Would you like it?” Nine times out of ten they say yes, and I give them a copy of 500 Acres and No Place to Hide.

According to several top book reviewers, 500 Acres IS a great summertime read. If you’ve read it, thanks. If you have a friend who hasn’t, and is headed to the beach or lake for one last Summer escape, why not get them a copy? They’ll have to stick sand in it themselves, but they’ll thank you!

From Story Circle Book Reviews:

Summertime. A perfect time for a memoir that is light-hearted and fun. McCorkindale’s humorist look at life in the slow lane is a great fit.

This is a sequel, but certainly nothing in the book requires you to have read the first one. The author’s approach is self-depreciating as well as funny, and the serious elements (e.g. her husband’s battle with pancreatic cancer) are dealt with in such a way that you can laugh and cry at the same time, and feel comfortable.

My own father used to say “I’m just a country boy trying to get along in the big city.” Well—McCorkindale is the complete opposite; a city girl trying to get by on 500 acres of beef cattle, outnumbered in her household by her two sons and husband.

“How many kids does it take to close the one and only gate that keeps the cattle in the pasture?” the author muses. Her answer? “Two. One to say, ‘what gate?’ and the second one to say, ‘I didn’t open it.'” With this sally, the intrepid McCorkindale takes on the farm. A woman a tad too obsessed with designer footwear and crow’s feet around her eyes, she is still able to bring a biting wit to her descriptions of farm animals, bad weather, and wearing Prada to do chores in the barn.

She mourns the loss of Taxi Takeout and made-to-order lattes, and in each essay in this book she takes a original look at her life in the country, complete with crowing hens, stinkbugs and Kudzu. She deals with her frustration with her writing: the local newspaper that has stopped printing her articles and owns up to the fact that her local readers feel she has gone to “the dark side.” Readers have complained that she is “…a bit bawdy, rather ribald, even risque…pining for bigger breasts and a smaller butt, my unabashed enthusiasm for high heels, tattoos and margaritas…even my reminiscences about high school boyfriends…are verboten. Taboo. Who knew?”

McCorkindale’s obsessions with personal looks, glamor, fashion and beauty may be a bit off-putting, but she writes ’em as she sees ’em. You may wonder about her style, her vision of child-rearing and her methods of dealing with a terminally ill husband, but you can’t deny that she has a strength in her humor, a veracity to her approach, and a refreshing ability to make a life for herself that she never planned. You come away from the reading of 500 Acres with a smile and an appreciation for someone who constantly makes lemonade when life gives her lemons.

I recommend this book for any woman, at any age, who wants a fun summer read that will also provide some introspection and self-evaluation!

by Laura Strathman Hulka
for Story Circle Book Reviews

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