Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Back to the Wood by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink

This is from six years ago, written one day when I was trying to settle my mind in one place, preferably a productive one. It didn't work, but I did figure out that sometimes it's okay to be...oh, look, squirrel. It's been used and re-used, but it's still a favorite. I hope you enjoy it...again.
I've wandered much further today than I should and I can't seem to find my way back to the wood - Kenny Loggins
I’m not a very attentive person. Well, I’m attentive, just not when and where I should be. I’ve said before that if I were in school now, I’d probably be diagnosed with some kind of horrifying but hopefully treatable acronym. As it is, I’m unfocused to the extreme. I would blame it on age, but that’s become such a huge umbrella that I’m reluctant to push anything else under it. So I will have to think of something…
Green is muscling its way into the grass in the lawn outside my office window. It is a Yes! moment. Birds are picking their way through. We saw a fat robin in the field yesterday. I wish he’d come into the yard as I watch—it would make the picture perfect.
Oh, yes. I don’t really know what to blame it on, or if I’ve always been this way. I got pretty good grades when I was a kid, but I don’t remember paying that much attention in the process.
You put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up…
I have tried to improve my concentration. It would make writing much easier if I did. I sometimes wonder how I’ve ever completed a book when I rarely type more than a paragraph without…
Que sera, sera, what will be, will be. The future’s…Farmers of America. They had nine patchcool corduroy jackets…why don’t I just stick with a nine-patch instead of trying to go all Mary Fons?
Without what? Oh, without my mind going off into a dozen different directions. To make it all more complicated, I’m a pantser, not a plotter. While my people come pretty much named and fully formed, the story itself…
The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah…
…just kind of evolves, but I’m really not sure how it happens. Many times a scene will start to map itself out as I’m falling asleep. I used to keep a pen and paper beside the bed, but there were several truths involved with that. (1) I was usually too sleepy to write the ideas down, (2) if I was awake enough, the pen was out of ink, or (3) I’d dropped the pad of paper and it was somewhere under the bed, and (4) if I got under the bed for anything, I had to go get the vacuum cleaner, because there was no possible way I could go back to sleep over that much dust.
Flowers are for the living, Mom always said, so this week I remembered to send flowers to my mother-in-law. Because she’s been ill. Because I love her. Because I wish my mom was here to send them to as well.
Good Lord, what Mom would say if she saw the dust under that bed! And what was that scene all about? I know it would be a good one if I could just remember it.
trolleyOccasionally thoughts will circle around to where they are together and almost harmonious. More often they clang…
…clang, clang went the trolley…
…more like a cacophony in my head.
And I have decided this is all right. In truth, I’d like to have an orderly mind (and an starsorderly under-the-bed, too, but we’re not going there), but I just don’t think it’s going to happen at this point. I remember cleaning out something one time, though I don’t remember what it was—surprise!—and in the mess I was cleaning, someone had spilled a box of those little sticky-back stars teachers and parents used to give as rewards.
Oohhh, shiny.
I didn’t think of it then—or maybe I did—but that’s the way life and the unfocused mind are. There’s a lot of clutter in both, a startling lack of direction, too much discordant noise, handwriting both across and up and down the page the way they wrote letters in days gone by.
And bright stars, and joyous walks, and music, and stories I love. It’s not so bad…
robinStarry, starry night…he cut off his ear, for heaven’s sake…tulips are up…when the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along…
There he is. There’s the robin. He left too fast for me to get the picture, but it was perfect. See? Harmony.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Set 'em up, Joe... by Joe DeRozier #WindowOvertheSink


It was in the '90s.

It's hard to believe that something so clear in my memory happened so long ago. I was still a pretty young guy, and I was still burning the candle at both ends. I'd be in the bakery early in the morning, do paperwork, run errands,  mix dough, proof dough, cut dough, again proof dough, fry dough, ice and fill dough, pack finished donuts in boxes to be delivered, then deliver the donuts―after I cleaned up the bakery.

We had several delivery routes back then, but this route was the longest and most spread out.  Because I couldn't pay anyone to do it, and still make money, I took it. It was a terrible route, with long distances between stops. 

I first went to Bluffton, then up to Ft. Wayne,  then the rest of the stops took me to the west side of the state.  Once done, I drove back home, for what seemed like an eternity, with no more stops. I drank coffee, popped Nodoz, and even took aspirin to do ANYTHING to get the caffeine in my system.

This night, I had already been to Bluffton. I then went up to Ossian, where I was routinely pulled over for speeding. It really was unintentional―I had a hard time focusing. The police there were ALWAYS nice. It was almost a welcome break from my drive just so I could talk to someone,even if they were writing me a ticket or warning.

I arrive in Ft Wayne, make my drop, and I'm heading to Highway 30. Was I speeding? Absolutely. I'm tired and I want to finish as soon as possible so that my caffeine rush doesn't desert me.

I see the familiar red and blue lights in my rearview mirror. This has become such a common occurrence to me, it doesn't faze me anymore. I pull to the side, have my license and registration all ready, and roll down my window. I wonder what the heck is he doing back there.

Suddenly, several more police cars show up. This isn't standard operating procedure. The original police car finally opens. I'm looking back at him, because I'm baffled.

He yells (I mean, really yells!) at me to get back in the van (I just had my head sticking out the window), put both hands outside my window as far as they could go, and not to move a muscle. This seems a bit theatrical.

I look at him, and he's making a pretty wide semicircle to be able to see me, as he approaches. HIS GUN IS DRAWN. Suddenly I realized that this is real.

But...

If you know me at all, you know my thoughts aren't always the most practical. It dawned on me, that I had a van full of donuts…and that there were a lot of policemen. They SO wanted my donuts, they were willing to threaten physical violence for them. What an honor!

Of course, this made me start to laugh. I'm tired. Incredibly drained. Running on fumes. The longer I look at the situation, the funnier it becomes. To me.

NOT to them.

I'm "gently" pulled out of the van―at gunpoint. I'm still giggling like a little girl. I'm frisked (by the way―that isn't cool), and another officer looks in the van with his flashlight. "What is in those boxes?" he screams.

Now I'm almost dying. "Donuts," I say with a huge grin.

He opens a couple boxes. Now he starts to laugh.

I told them I had just dropped off donuts at a convenience store and was heading to my next stop.

Apparently, a man in a van had just robbed a store and was racing down Highway 69. I was understandably mistaken for that guy.

The police were very nice and told me to be careful. It was one of the few times that sheer adrenaline saw me through the rest of my route.

I wonder if any of them are still telling that story to their friends?


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Be My Heartwarming Valentine by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink



It’s a magical place, is Christmas Town, Maine, and the writers of its stories can’t wait to go back each year. They start planning the next roster of stories as soon as the current one is finished. They exchange names of characters and businesses and keep a bible of what’s been done so far. Even the writers change from year to year. No one leaves Christmas Town because she wants to, but sometimes other responsibilities require a trip out of town.

Every now and then, we change things up. One year, we covered Thanksgiving and New Year’s as well as Christmas. For Christmas of 2019, we released our 2018 stories as an anthology. And now, as the new roaring 20s are putting on their fresh clothes, we have eight new stories in the Be My Heartwarming Valentine: A Heartwarming Christmas Town Box Set.


Stop by and sign up for our newsletter. You’ll find free reads and other fun stuff there. http://heartwarmingchristmastown.com/join-our-mailing-list/ New information will be showing up as we wind down to release day on February 11.
Here to give you the Cliff’s Notes synopses of our stories are this year’s authors. Click on their links to find out more about us—we love visitors!—or to sign up for our newsletters.

Table for Six by Anna J. Stewart
When overwhelmed widowed single mother of three Cora Leonidis's mother-in-law "buys" her a personal chef at Christmas Town's bachelor auction, she doesn't know whether to be relieved or horrified. But from the moment Giovanni Renzo appears on her doorstep, Cora feels an immediate connection to this wanderer. She's not the only one who's loved and lost. While Giovanni is there to make her life easier, Cora hopes to heal his heart...and prove it's okay to love again. 
Sign up for Anna's newsletter at www.AuthorAnnaStewart.com 

A Tale of Two Rings by Beth Carpenter
Two years ago, Alden Moretti ended his engagement with Mindy Rose and left Christmas Town. Now his grandmother has volunteered him to participate in the Christmas Town bachelor auction as an excuse to return. His assignment: convince Mindy to give back his grandmother’s diamond engagement ring. But after a few trips down memory lane with Mindy, Alden is having second thoughts. Can he leave Mindy behind once again?

The Apple of My Eye by Melinda Curtis
Young Lizzie Lincoln buys Steve Haepner at the auction for one hundred schmeckels and wants to keep him, much to single mom Abigail’s horror. Apple farmer Abigail doesn’t date. However, she needs an electrician and since Steve claims he’s not interested in dating her, it’s too good of a deal to pass up. But soon, Abigail is thinking she may have spoken too soon…
Sign up for Melinda’s newsletter at https://www.melindacurtis.net/signup

Romancing her Valentine by Cari Lynn Webb
When Tessa Collier places the highest bid on the last bachelor at Christmas Town's Valentine's Day auction, she only wants one thing - a fake date to accompany her to her ex-husband’s gender reveal baby shower. But there's nothing pretend about Tessa's reaction to her bachelor - professional skier, Ryan Reeves. When Ryan offers his terms for their arrangement, Tessa must decide if one impulsive decision might lead to heartache worse than attending that baby shower alone or to her forever Valentine.   
Find Cari Lynn at https://carilynnwebb.com/

A Place to Hang Her Heart by Liz Flaherty
Although he was the instigator to the end of their long marriage, Rob Rahilly still needs to know Christy is happy after her solo move to Christmas Town, Maine. When his job ends in early retirement, he goes to New England to see how she’s doing, and ends up in a bachelor auction. Will the only woman he’s ever really loved take another chance on him, or do some hurts go too deep for the wounds to heal?
Find Liz’s Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/authorlizflaherty/

Knock Down My Heart by Anna Adams
Georgia Bardill's daughters decide Sven Dante, their mom's handyman, is the perfect prince for her. Naturally, they volunteer him for the town's bachelor auction on the condition he takes out their mom and then makes them a snowman. A single mom, a slightly reluctant do-gooding "prince" bachelor, and sweetly manipulative little girls make Knock Down My Heart a heartwarming Christmas Town romance!
You can get in touch with Anna at https://www.facebook.com/AnnaAdamsAuthor/

Love Fixes Everything by Claire McEwen
When Carrie Porter’s friends bid on handyman Gage Flanagan in the Christmas Town bachelor auction, and then gift his services to her, the single mom is embarrassed to accept their charity. But Carrie sets her pride aside to learn all she can about home repair from the surly bachelor. Only Gage isn’t quite as grumpy as he seems. As they work together to repair her historic home, Carrie and Gage realize that the love they feel might just repair their hearts as well. 

Head Over Heels by LeAnne Bristow
High school English teacher and former college gymnast, Karen McFadden, wants nothing more than to open her own gymnastics facility, but a math learning disability makes completing the paperwork for a business loan almost impossible. The last thing Daniel Lassiter wants to do is get stuck with an attention-seeking diva who wants to relive her college glory days, but when his accounting services put him in the library's bachelor auction, he has little choice but to help her. He doesn't believe that she wants to open the gym so she can help underprivileged teens. She doesn't think he'll stick around long enough to find out. Will they realize what's right in front of them before it's too late?

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Dear hearts and gentle people... by Joe DeRozier and Samie McFadden #WindowOvertheSink

There are two guests here looking out the Window Over the Sink with me today. What riches that is! I'm sure you'll agree when you read what they have to offer. My thanks to Joe DeRozier and Samie McFadden.


 The first real snow... by Joe DeRozier

One of my favorite memories of a good snowstorm was around 1999. It had snowed hard and continuously, all day.  There was no way my trucks were getting out for donut deliveries.

The worst days are when it snows and accumulates very early.  I've stared out the window a million times...is it slowing down?

Are the plows out?

Is it freezing?

Salt trucks?

I'd hate to halt production just to have the snow stop at six pm, and the snow removal teams at full force.

No, this was one of those days when it is so bad that you KNOW you can't deliver, and all your accounts know it. 

It’s evening, and I’m wired because I’m usually in full work mode.

The kids and I watch the snow come down by the bucketload and are amazed by the beauty of it as it hangs on the trees and blankets our cars.

Thumper (Nicole) konks out early, as is her habit, but Dodi and I stay up to watch it.

After a while, I ask her, "Hey, Doe, what do you think about walking around in this?"

She enthusiastically said she would love it, and after her mommy's protests fell on our deaf ears, I bundle her up to the point that she can hardly move. Under her hat, and above her scarf, all I can see are two big eyes that are very blue and very excited.

As we descend down the porch, I realize she is too small overcome the snowbanks, so I throw her on my shoulders and hold her hands

We venture down the sidewalk past the Shenemans’ and Dawalts’ homes...their lights are on and smoke is coming from the chimneys of their snow-covered roofs.

It is cold, but not the kind of cold that you feel through your being... it's the kind that after you're moving around, you feel comfortable...it was an absolute, living, Norman Rockwell painting.

I'd occasionally pick her off my shoulders and throw her into a huge snowbank.  She'd hit it and sink in with the sound that fresh snow makes when being manipulated...THHHUUMPH

The way she laughed...I saw her bright blue eyes crinkle and the sound of a child absolutely giddy with laughter...the most beautiful music in the world.  Every parent knows this sound. And every parent gets a slight lump in their throat while reading about it, as it brings back the memories of their own young child, making that most beautiful sound...

We get to the St. Charles playground. We climb the snow mountain to the rim of the basketball rim, where we make snowballs and push them through the hoop.

We trek farther north. There’s a train on the tracks.  We stand hand-in-hand, and watched the train go...we check each car and comment on all the graffiti.   Graffiti can be very pretty...

We get to Boulevard and climb a steep hill.  When we get to the top, Daddy does somersaults all the way to the bottom, as Dodi slides on her bottom.
 
I feel snow slide down my back and up my pant legs all the way down. It’s completely worth it to hear that musical masterpiece of a child's laughter once again.

As we walk home, I see Dodi looking at everything with such amazement...we forget, as adults, the beauty that every season brings, and it isn't until times like this that your mind is jolted back to a time when you appreciated such wonderment..

We get back home, and after I received a slight scolding from Mommy, we get Dodi into some warm dry clothes.

Completely tuckered from our adventures, she goes right to sleep.

I remember sitting on the couch, thinking...

I was thinking that I'd never, ever forget this time...

***

by Samie McFadden

But hey
What can you do?
Contribute protest create donate
Eat more eat less exercise stretch
Sound off educate debate research read test validate consolidate
communicate hibernate
Vaccinate medicate isolate procreate
Teach preach listen pray leave stay
Walk run jog kick scream soothe
pacify justify unify amplify
Think write
Make art make music make love make peace make a statement
Grow a garden shop locally open a business care globally
Say no say yes discuss resist
Run for office serve an office expose an office
Judge love dance
But do it because you choose to
And do it now.
That's what you can do.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Still me... by Debby Myers #WindowOvertheSink

Welcome Debby Myers to the Window today!

Hi, everyone – it’s been a couple of years since I wrote last about my Multiple Sclerosis. Can you believe it? I left you talking about all the ways I was trying to focus my attention on anything else except…of course, the Multiple Sclerosis. I am going to start with where I ended before talking about what keeps me going on my worst days. 

The best thing that has happened is the birth of my granddaughter, Joelle
Marie. Her name is a combination of her two grandmother’s middle names. The “Jo” is my middle name. My son wouldn’t tell me what they were going to name her the whole pregnancy. He would say “we haven’t decided yet.” Yeah, right…but I was so touched when I heard it. And she is so precious. She just loves Nana and Papaw too.  My children say that’s all the grandchildren I get, so we’ll have to wait on my two step-daughters, who say they may not have any. Or maybe wait for my oldest daughter to get married and we can adopt some. We have eight. I’m good with that, especially since they are all such great kids! Five boys and three girls. The time I spend with them right now is when I feel the best. I push myself when they are here. 

I still try to hide my struggles from my family. One day I will be a burden, but I want to delay that as long as I’m capable. Leading to a great thing that has happened in the last two years―I joined my MS online support group.
When I have questions or I’m feeling down, I can go there. Even though our symptoms are all different, somehow our feelings are all similar. We “get” each other. I’ve spent entire days in the chat room―comparing, sharing, and caring about all the others with this disease. It’s a large community and they are all strangers that have become MS friends.

Other good things that have happened. I directed and created my 20th play for Ole Olsen Memorial Theater. I made it my last as a director. I will agree to co-direct or be an assistant director, but I can’t predict how I will be on any given day. I’ve spent 25 years with the organization. It is another part of me that is changing. Last time I wrote I was working on learning how to be this new person with this incurable disease. I still don’t know how. Aside from that, directing is hard, as I’ve written about. My last two shows I didn’t have a true assistant as they both became a part of the crew. Being the Publicity Director for the board meant I had all of that responsibility too. I just can’t do the shows at the level and with the quality I want them to be. Going out on top isn’t a bad thing, but having to go out at all…is. 

Finally, to update you on the Multiple Sclerosis itself…it’s progressing.
That’s the kind I have. I’ve had four more infusions of Ocrevus, which is the only treatment for Primary Progressive MS. It has, I think, slowed the progression. I’ve been “stable.” I have only had one new lesion in the four years since I was diagnosed and they found 17 lesions in my body. I have had a total of 10 exacerbations―they create new symptoms or enhance existing ones. They can stretch out for multiple days or weeks. They range from mild to serious in severity. You may also have different symptoms during different exacerbations. So, just like the disease itself, they are very unpredictable. There are only two triggers for exacerbations―stress or infection. These triggers increase inflammation, which is the biggest threat to MS. All of those I’ve had temporarily worsened the symptoms I live with every day. The last one brought on a new symptom, and so far, it’s not going away. Doc sent me for another MRI, but no new lesions. The new symptom was caused by an exacerbation. 

As I sit here typing this, I am frustrated. Both of my pinkie fingers are now numb and tingly. You wouldn’t believe how much you use your pinkies! Typing is one of the times when I notice most, but anything I do with my hands is now more difficult. When this symptom came on, I was just getting over a mild case of the flu, likely the trigger. Doc says it “might” still go away at some point. Ugh! She wants another round of intravenous steroids to see. NO! I have worked hard the last several months to begin losing that 40 pounds I’ve gained. I’ve lost 16 already and now along comes those steroids. It’s all so frustrating, but losing my pinkies sunk me into a week of depression.

I am just coming out of my funk. I spent more than a week in the house. I didn’t see anyone except my husband and we didn’t even talk much. He kept asking, “You Okay?” All I did was play computer games and stare blankly at the TV.

I kept rubbing my pinkies, thinking they would come back. When they didn’t, I cried and I slept for an entire day. My pity party was well underway. It was one morning last week when I was lying in bed drinking coffee with my blank stare scrolling through my phone when I looked up and something so subtle, yet so obvious, caught my attention. 

It was my own reflection in the mirror above my dresser. I looked like another person. All those times I asked myself “where did I go?” and all this time I’d spent trying to become this different version of me…wasted?  I was 56 and I challenged myself to not up no matter what. Had that changed about me, too? 

I glanced back at my phone. While I was sitting there scrolling earlier, I had come to the bottom of all my text messages. The name I saw on the screen when I looked down was Kurt. Kurt Schindler was one of my best friends. I started to read all the texts we had shared over the last couple of months of his life, clear up to the night before. With everything he was going through, he kept talking to me. He kept telling me he wasn’t giving up. He said he was thinking of me knowing even with MS, I was still beautiful, creative and smart. Kurt said he knew I wouldn’t let anything change who I was. Hmmm…

I got up, got dressed, fixed my hair, put on my make-up. Looking back in the mirror, I really felt overwhelmed with feelings. I sat down at my computer and started writing. I wrote four different articles that I hope to submit to magazines. I think I was more productive in that one day than I had been for at least a month. As I was straightening up my living room, I picked up the Snoopy quilt I had bought Kurt just weeks before he died. I wrapped it around me. Life (and death) brought me back, numb pinkies and all.