Sunday, November 10, 2013


     I have probably mentioned it before in this blog that I am 1) Finnish on my mother’s side of the family and 2) I have heard the expression, “sisu” thousands of times growing up.
     Sisu means spirit, determination, finish the job at any cost. I am in the midst of writing a sequel to Albin’s Letters, the first book about my grandparents coming to America from Finland at the turn of the last century. The sequel will be Hilda’s Spirit (or Hilda’s Sisu).
     It took me awhile to figure it out but I probably have been thinking about this Finn expression all my life, for instance: Our first born child is Nancy Sue—NanSisu. I couldn’t find a connection with our second child’s name, Phyllis, but after she  married she and her husband named one of their first sailboats Sisu. Our daughter Susie is Sisu backwards and the youngest girl in the family is Teri named for my mother, her grandma, Esteri (Esther in English) who I know for a fact was blessed with more sisu than anyone I knew.
     Subconsciously I may have been thinking that sisu only applies to females. We women-folk have had to be more aggressive down through the years in demanding our rights.
     Our boys and their Dad have a lot of spirit, but maybe not as much sisu as the females in the family. What do you think? What does sisu mean to you? (You don't have to be Finnish to vote.)

Rosie Atkinson

November 2013

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Putting the FUN Back in Funeral

Reading obituaries for fun. That’s sick, my kids would say if they knew what I was doing instead of eating breakfast. And maybe it is,
But when you are sad you’ll do almost anything to bring a little joy into your so-called retired life!
This morning’s obits had a man named Crummer.  Now that’s a name! Did he go through school being teased about it? I wondered.
And a guy named Frary. All I could come up with was the old WWI song, “It’s a long way to Tipararry”, about which we used to say silly things like, “What’s a Rarry? And How would you tip it?”
And the lady named Mock. I was taught to never knock people’s names so of course I hate myself when I do, but I couldn't help but make up a “knock-knock-who’s-there”!
And if my name was Burkholder, I would last until the fourth grade when I’d finally have to ask my mother, “Where’s our Burk and why are we holding it?”
I could go on down the list but my coffee is getting cold. And I will probably never get over the kids at my school calling me “Chicken-brooder”. (My last name was Bruder).


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

     Good morning readers!
     Albin's Letters is racking up a few sales and the Kindle version seems to be very popular. I still have a long way to go before I feel comfortable calling myself "author".
     I was thrilled to see so many friends and relatives at the Launch party given by my kids on the 19th. Nancy and Teri did an outstanding job of staging the event at the Port Orchard Yacht Club. If my children learned nothing else when they were growing up they learned how to party.
     Charlie Rook was on hand to greet old and new friends and you couldn't wipe the smile off his face as he inched his wheelchair around the room.The only thing missing was the rest of our grandkids and great grandkids.
     Some of our friends said they ordered their copies from although now that Barnes & Noble have the book in their catalog it can be ordered from them although it takes a bit longer for delivery.
     Old friends, Bill and Janice Lounsbery said Bill's book has been published and will soon be available. I'll post the title in my next message. It seems like people all over the area are getting books into print. Of course our most famous local author, Debbie Macomber, is at the top of the romance best seller's list  and now has a series on the Hallmark Channel every Saturday night. Look for the Cedar Cove dramas glittering across your screen every week.
    And for all of you who loved the story of Albin and Hilda and want to know what happens next in the lives of these two pioneer Finns in America at the turn of the last century, stay tuned. The sequel is well under way!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Love Your Name

Love Your Name

“What’s in a name? A rose by any name would smell as sweet!” at least that’s how I remember the quote. It’s been awhile since the study of Shakespeare was a requirement to get out of the ninth grade where I attended school in Chicago.

Okay, I happen to believe Shakespeare had it right. At that impressionable age we were self conscious about everything. It ain’t easy being 13 through 15. Now my mantra is “Old age ain’t for sissies”!

But then was then and I went to school with a lot of kids whose name ended in “ski” or “ano” or “itz”. Mine ended in “der” and when we were at war with Germany I really didn’t like my last name. I wanted it to be “Grable” as in Betty, or ”Reynolds” as in Debbie. You get the picture.

When I got my first job after high school I teamed up with a co-worker whose last name was Skavarka. I had long since forgotten my hang up about last names and I thought this was a beautiful name. It had rhythm, It rolled off the tongue nicely and had lyrical quality. But he didn’t like it and so changed it to Collins. So now he sounded Irish and had a name like a popular bar drink. His choice.

One of my jobs at ye old title company was to check names. They called it the “name run” as in find out if there’s a record of any bankruptcies or foreclosures against this buyer. (I think we checked out divorces and marriages at that time, too but I’m not sure that would be legal today).

People’s names became an obsession with me and after beginning my so-called career in the newspaper business, names and the correct spelling thereof became crucial!  Especially when I was preparing for it to be seen in print in a daily or weekly newspaper. Incorrect spelling of names was anathema to me! (Also to my boss, the editor, who could fire me!)

More importantly, it should be a source of pride for all of us to love and respect our names. And unless your parents were on drugs and gave you some ridiculous handle that you can no longer handle now that you’re going into second grade (like, when your parents, whose last name was Shott, named you “Buck”. You really wanted to be “Crack”).

(Oh, BTW, Shakespeare had Juliet say it in Romeo and Juliet. You're welcome).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Joy

I'm thrilled to pieces that my book, Albin's Letters is on its way to the final printing.

So many people are responsible for getting this project off the ground, starting with daughter, Phyllis, and Susie who began the tedious job of editing and having readers look it over for corrections and suggestions. There are so many parts to getting a story into book form, I am amazed at how they did it in such a relatively short time.

After leaving my job at The SUN in 1979 one of the first things I wanted to do was to get a home computer. Charlie found one for sale by a fellow employee at Boeing. He brought it home, plunked it onto a table and said, "There.  Now go ahead and write your heart out".  I had tried the fancy typewriters that recorded text onto little discs, but here was another piece of equipment that would do so much more. How much more was up to me. First I needed to learn how to turn the darn thing on!

Kitsap Computing Seniors to the rescue!  I joined this group of pioneers and began to learn what some of the kids in school were already into thanks to Apple Computer and the programs they were instituting in our public schools. And here I was with an Apple 2E just itching to get started. The internet was somewhere off in the future for me, but I had plenty to keep me busy what with untold stories taking up space in my brain clamoring to get out.

I began asking around and read about a new group of writers starting up close to home. Peninsula Chapter of Romance Writers of America had meetings going and it wasn't too far from home so I joined. I wrote and I wrote and I attended workshops, one given by South Kitsap author Debbie Macomber of romance writers' fame. Then I went home and wrote some more. Debbie was getting stories published as were other members, like Linda Lael Miller, and Kristin Hannah, also residents of South Kitsap County. I figured it would be only a matter of time and I would join that illustrious group. But there were interruptions along the way. I never stopped writing, but lost the incentive to do anything about publishing my work. For one thing it seemed so daunting and I knew nothing about  publishing books.

I learned to use electronic mail at Kitsap Regional Library and went through a couple of more temporary jobs,  serving as secretary to Ellen Craswell in her first two years in the State Senate, became volunteer coordinator for Retired Senior Volunteer Services and then working at a small resume writing service in Port Orchard for a time.

Charlie retired and we took off in a motorhome to roam the midwest and southern states finally landing in Yuma AZ where we purchased a couple of lots. We placed a manufactured home on one of them and established it as our winter home, traveling back and forth to our home in Harper until it began to take a toll on our health to the point where we finally decided to sell the Yuma house and move back to Washington for good.

Life was good once more, but our health continued to decline. First there was Charlie's stroke, and then my open heart surgery. Fast forward through the sale of our Manchester place and the move to assisted living after which Charlie had to leave assisted living for round the clock nursing care. After staying in Life Çare of Port Orchard for a year he was moved to Ridgemont Terrace. I had already taken up residence at RT Retirement Apartments so a short walk to see Charlie became my daily routine. We have "tea thirty" at five and he likes a cut-up apple and other goodies including sacks of sugar free candy he likes to give away.

Life is good once again. Different, but good. And I have a book eager to get into your hands!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Old Harper Dock Memories

Old Harper Dock Memories

The Colby-Harper and Southworth area is rich with history and much of it centers about the Harper Dock, one of many landings for the old Mosquito Fleet ferries that transported people and goods around Puget Sound and other areas of the Salish Sea from Port Townsend to Olympia.
Twelve years ago we sold our Harper waterfront house where we lived and raised our kids for 40 years. It served us well and I still have wonderful memories of our children walking over to Harper Dock (they call it Harper Pier now but the locals always referred to it as The Dock) to drop a hook over the side to snag a salmon, cod or just any old wiggly thing that happened along.
Should the Harper Pier, or some version of it, be rebuilt someday, something should be done about the parking situation.
My thoughts on the matter: The Port of Bremerton should purchase the old house and store, raze the buildings (the fire department needs more practice fires for instruction of new firefighters) and use that area for parking. A two level parking structure with low cost parking fee should serve the people who use the dock and it won’t interfere with anybody’s view.
An arrangement could be made with the owners of the Evergreen Lumber property for parking overflow. Reserve a corner of the parking structure for a drive-through coffee and tackle shop and everybody’s happy.
Thanks to a group with preservation of the dock in mind, the neighbors may still be able to wander out on the dock in summer and catch a fish or bucket of squid. Or meet the love of their life. Or get married.  Anything’s possible.


There’s been some trouble in computer city of late. My computer seems to have been throwing a tantrum and I couldn’t figure out why. So I asked Daughter No 4 who happened to be on the premises. She did some key poking and then called Daughter No. 3 who said she would come over on the weekend to try to help figure it all out.

No. 4 shut down everything and left knowing that more help was on the  way.  That was yesterday.  I woke up this morning and out of curiosity tried the program I’d been working on and magically, it seems to have fixed itself.  No 4 probably fixed it with her poking around. Don’t know.  It could have had something to do with challenged fingers! (Mine)

My kids always say “The problem seems to be somewhere between the computer chair and the keyboard”.