Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Frame

 I'm in a writing group, Wordplay, with Don and Kathy Kegarise. Kathy is a poet whose work I'll beg to use in the Window at a different time. Today I want to introduce you to Don. He's funny, a little grumpy--yes, you are, Don!--and one of the most talented people I've ever met. He's written two books and had some of the most fun adventures imaginable. His art brings tears to my eyes--so did this essay. Please make him welcome. - Liz


by Don Kegarise

The 24” x 36” picture hangs at the back of the studio out of light and traffic of hundreds of paintings that come and go. Some are admired and sold, others changed around and hung in other rooms. Many of them travel miles to art shows in different cities. While the poorly done sixty-year-old painting collects dust that dulls the warm snow scene featuring an old abandoned house, the story is not about the painting, or the artist, but about The Frame.

  The big snow scene was finished. It really fell short of what I had in mind, but it was finished. It was only the third painting since I had started painting again after several years of not painting anything. Unable to find a frame that suited the picture, the only thing left was to make it myself. I sort of knew what I wanted and had found the right piece of wood, but I didn’t have the tools to make it.

  My father had been a carpenter and cabinetmaker before he retired, and he still used his shop daily, fixing and repairing things for his kids and grandchildren. I had found a rough-sawn board a full one and a half inches thick that I thought would make a nice frame.

One evening after supper I went down to my parents’ home, visited for a while, then asked Dad if he would help me make a frame. As usual he responded with a “Sure, be glad to.” 

  Once in the shop I gave him the dimensions and tried to explain what I thought it should look like. We ripped the board down and cut the pieces to length. To cut the miter was going to be tricky because of the angle I wanted for the sides. We had cut extra pieces, so we could practice the miter cuts on the corners. The first two sample cuts did not work, I could see what was wrong, but Dad couldn’t.

  After another try I could see he was getting upset. For the first time I noticed his hands shaking and the inability to see in his mind--to visualize--how to cut the miter.

  The man who was known for his patience was losing his control. The same man I had watched just a few years before who took a framing square and laid out a 2 x 8 jack rafter, take a hand saw and cut a compound angle on one end and a seat cut on the other end then hand it up to the two men on the roof where it fit without issue. This was the first time I realized he was old and in his eighties. The thousands of hours of work, raising a large family, struggling through the Great Depression and World War II, had taken its toll.

  We took a short break and afterwards, managed to complete the frame. Today, sixty-one years later, the painting in The Frame still hangs in my studio. I look at it daily, only now I am the eighty-seven-year-old, with hands that shake a little and must give the simplest task a second thought. I need to be aware of my patience. Sometimes I reach up and rub my hand over the rough wood. The energy is still there and seems to shrink the gap in time.

***

Don Kegarise, Kewanna, IN

indianaartists@outlook.com

With a background in psychology from Youngstown University, motivational speaker and artist, Kegarise has been proactive in area art leagues and the IAC, promoting art and artists.  He excels in management, sales and creative ideas and has developed numerous organizations with success. Kegarise has lived in the Kewanna area for the past forty years where he co- owned Kegarise Art Studio,   Kegarise enjoys painting landscapes, creating objects from found items , and is the author of several published short stories.



Tuesday, September 18, 2018

“…the silent candle burning.”

Join me in welcoming Debby Myers back this week. The subject isn't an easy one, and I found myself grieving with her when I read it. That's a good reminder, too, that the weight of grief lightens when it is shared.
by Debby Myers
So, I’m sitting at my computer wondering what interesting topic I could write about to intrigue Liz enough to let me share it with all of you. Whenever I think about writing, I can come up with different stories that make up each chapter of my life.

With my multiple sclerosis comes the loss of short-term memory from lesions in my brain...as if I needed to forget anything else! What’s fascinating is that my long-term memory is almost all intact. I’ve already written for you about my disease, about being a flying trapeze artist, about losing my father-in-law and about directing community theater. So, what this time...

Let’s talk about 15 years ago. That’s when I really began to understand that there are very different kinds of love and tragedy. My oldest daughter was pregnant with her first child. After carrying him for five months, she went in alone for her monthly prenatal checkup, not expecting that the outcome of that appointment would change everything. When her OBGYN started the ultrasound, she asked if anyone had come with her and asked where the baby’s father was. My daughter said he was at work. The doctor stopped the ultrasound and told her she should call him. Something was wrong. There was no heartbeat. Her baby boy had died in vitro.

The next couple of weeks seemed like a blur. They had to induce labor for her to give birth to him. It was too late to abort the pregnancy. The baby’s father, my ex-husband, and I were all there. After several hours of labor, my ex was enraged. He went to the doctor and pleaded with him to do something to speed up the process. My daughter cried the entire time. My heart was breaking. 

Finally, she gave birth to a 10-ounce baby boy. We all held him in our hands – fully formed, but very tiny. By law, he had to be named before he was cremated: Peyton Samuel.

My daughter slipped into depression. She quit beauty school. She wouldn’t eat or clean up. She cried and cried for two months. We all worried about her. If she ever came out of it, what would it take? They had given her a picture of him that she carried with her. Then about four months after she lost Peyton, she went back to her OBGYN for a checkup and learned she was expecting again. That’s when she began to see light at the end of the dark tunnel she’d been living in.

My daughter was very careful throughout this pregnancy. She blamed herself for losing Peyton. She was convinced it had been something she had done, although we all tried to convince her that it wasn’t. She was scared it might happen again. She got past that five-month mark and began to feel more at ease. It was then that she began to smile again, to look forward to her new baby.

Nearly 13 years ago, I became a grandmother for the second time. Yes, I say the second time because I held my tiny grandson in my arms first.

When my granddaughter was born, she literally saved her mother’s life. My daughter spent every waking minute with her. She’d get up in the night many times those first few months to see if she was still breathing. Now she is about to be a teenager and is the apple of our eye.

None of us will ever forget Peyton Samuel. My daughter keeps a small scrapbook just for him. I often wonder what he would have looked like and what he would have been like now. Yet I know he is forever an angel and is with many of our family members who have gone since.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

It ain't easy...


          We’ve been married a long time and I hope we’re married a lot longer, but contrary to the belief of everyone who hasn’t been married a long time, it never gets easy. On either participant. Although it’s harder on the one who’s right. In our case, that would be me—but there, as in virtually everything else, we don’t agree.
          Take, for instance, spending winters in Florida. He—Duane, the roommate, the boyfriend, my husband, the person I do in all actuality love more than life itself, but for now we’ll call him “he”—loves Florida. Loves heat and says he never has to shovel it or blow it out of the driveway. Loves the beach. Loves palm trees and all the other tropical things that grow there—except roaches; I don’t think he loves them.
          I like most of those things, too—other than unrelenting heat, but I like them, it must be said, for a week. Maybe two.
          However, we spent a few winters down there and enjoyed them, although I was always eager to get home. However, he doesn’t want to go again, because he worries about the house we have here. About power going off and pipes freezing, about vandalism and burglary. (I worry about those things, too, which is why we have alarms and people checking on the house all the time, but what do I know?)
          Speaking of the house, we’ve lived in it for over 40 years. It has an upstairs and three acres of lawn and it’s in the country. It would be a good idea, I have mused, to sell it and move closer to town or maybe even to town, where things are more convenient, lawns are smaller, and we could find a one-story house. He was okay with that, except that he doesn’t want to buy another house. Owning a house is okay, he agrees, but he doesn’t want to own another one. I, on the other hand, think renting a house is okay, but I don’t want to rent one.  
          So we’ll stay here, which is fine with me. If anything changes I’ll let you know.
          Then there’s music. I like music—he loves music. However, he hates crowds, so we never go to big
Janie Fricke at Shipshewana
venues to see anyone. I’m good with that because—voila! I don’t like crowds, either. We agree. What we don’t agree on is how much to spend on concert tickets. No matter what the price is, he turns pale, wipes his forehead, and says it’s too much. The artists are great, but it’s just…too much.
          It took me a while—years, in fact—but I finally learned to buy the tickets and when he asks how much they cost to just ask if he’d like a cup of coffee, because I’m not telling. It’s kind of like how many guitars he has or how much fabric I have—not worth discussing.
          Neither of us much likes how the other one drives, although that’s something we’ve pretty much worked out. If we’re both in the car, he’s driving. Even if I start out under the wheel, I give it up about six or seven comments down the road. I have mastered the wilting look, given just before I say, “Would you like to drive?” and pull over so that he can. Which was what he wanted all along. No, I’m still not crazy about his driving, but if I talk enough, I can ignore it.
          I like to talk. Frankly, he likes to talk more. I think I’m a better listener. He thinks he is. I like to talk about personal, sensitive, intense things. He likes to talk about anything that’s not personal, sensitive, or intense.
          As the years have gone on, we’ve discovered newer, sillier things to disagree on. Skipping over religion and politics, we are never hungry at the same time. I yearn for anything salty and he’s never met a pastry he didn’t like. I love red meat, he prefers chicken. I want to eat at regular times almost every day. He wants to eat whenever. He almost always orders the same thing at a restaurant and I practically never do. He always drives the same route to virtually any destination and I look for a new one every time. He is so relieved that I have GPS because I no longer get lost every time I go anywhere.
          We don’t worry a lot about those differences, because for the most part, they don’t matter all that much. What matters is ending the day laughing at each other’s jokes and having each other’s back. Just don’t expect it to be easy, because it never will. Especially if you’re the one that’s usually right—just ask me.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Advice for young Americans

This week's guest post was written by Chris Flaherty. I'd like to say he learned these things from his dad and me, but I think he came about them on his own. Some of them undoubtedly the hard way. Thanks, Chris.

My advice for young Americans. 

1. Stay out of debt. Credit cards and student loans for a communications degree are probably a bad idea for most.


2. Don't go to college unless you have a clear, concise plan for what your degree will do for you professionally. 


3. Pick a career that either makes you an extraordinary amount of money or do something you enjoy. Not many of you are going to get both. For those of you who are average (most of you), the difference between the job you hate and the job you love is only about 10k a year. See #4 and be happy.


4. Don't buy things. See things and do things, instead. 


5. If you aspire to live in NYC, DC, or LA, do it when you're young. It's pretty easy to work your way to the middle of the country as you get older. It's damn near impossible to go the other direction.


6. Drive your car until it doesn't work anymore. Fix it a few times and keep driving it. Car payments are a terrible waste of money. 


7. Pick good battles. You'll find that most aren't worth the effort and stress.


8. If you can't pay your bills, you can't afford to have a pet and sure as hell can't afford to have kids. 


9. He's not going to change, much. She isn't either.


10. There's a fair chance you're the asshole. Be self-aware.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Standing up

Writing is different for me than it used to be, when I had to steal my hours at the keyboard from other times of the day, from social life, probably from my family--and no, that's not an easy thing to admit. But nowadays, although life is busy and for the most part happily so, I'm in the office as soon as I've finished that ten minutes of housework I require of myself. Sometimes fifteen if I've fallen behind. I worry about deadlines and sometimes push them a bit, but I never really reach the "I'll never get this done in time" point. I almost always have my column (if it's a new one) or guest blogs or my own blog posts ready the night before.

But it's 7:16 on Tuesday morning right now and I haven't written the post for this, my own blog, where the deadline is self-scheduled. But I've told people I'll post every Tuesday or beg a friend to do it in my place. However, I forgot to beg this week. I was busy enough I didn't write my own. It's not fair to anyone that I too often use essays I've used before. What to do, what to do.

Maybe I could steal from Joe DeRozier--he wouldn't mind. He wrote this the other day about his son Jeremiah...but, no, I can't swipe it without asking, and he's out of town. Where are you when I need you, Joe?

Or I could ask Debby Myers. People love her posts. But even I can't ask her to come up with 1000 words fifteen minutes ago. There are probably limits to friendship.

Or, hey, Brad McClain, could you be funny today? I'm behind and I need...but, no, not this time.

I have no one to blame--I'm the one who didn't get my "homework" done in a timely manner. These have been busy and disturbing days, but that has become the status quo and I need to work around it.

That being said, here I am without a subject. No beginning, no ending. I have words and thoughts, but they need to stay on this side of the Window. They have to do with politics and religion and I try not to do that here. But our pastor said in church Sunday that sometimes you just have to Stand Up, and I agree with him--it's important to Stand Up. But it needs to come with the warning that you'll lose friends, you'll be hurt and you'll hurt others, and sometimes it's lonely where your heart and your mind decree you must stand.

Rest in Peace, John McCain. Thanks for standing up. God bless America.