Saturday, September 28, 2019

At the end of the day...

In 2012. I had a book out called A Soft Place to Fall, about a marriage gone wrong and how two people found ways to make it right. I still have a soft spot for that book and for long marriages. I regret that I sometimes get a little too glib when I talk about it--I make it all sound easy when it's not at all. At the end of the day, though, marriage is private and what goes on within it is not to be shared. No one really understands anyone else's. Looking back on this, my feelings toward my parents' marriage haven't changed, but I have come to realize that--at the end of that day I just mentioned--it wasn't really any of my business.


“A great marriage is not when the 'perfect couple' comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.” ― Dave Meurer

On September 28, 1935, my parents went to a minister’s house and got married. My dad wore a double-breasted suit and my mom had on a hat. They stayed married through the rest of the Great Depression and three wars, through the births of six children and the death of one at the age of three, through failing health and the loss of all their parents and some of my father’s siblings. Dad died in 1981, Mom in 1982. They were still married.

From the viewpoint of their youngest child, who was born in their early 40s when they thought they were finished with all that, it was the marriage from hell. I never saw them as a loving couple, never saw them laugh together or show affection or even hold hands. They didn’t buy each other gifts, sit on the couch together, or bring each other cups of coffee. The only thing I was sure they shared was that—unlike my husband and me—they didn’t cancel out each other’s vote on Election Day.

“Why on earth,” I asked my sister once, “did they stay together all those years? Mom could have gone home to her family, even if she did have to take a whole litter of kids. Heaven knows Dad could have.” (He was the adored youngest son and brother—he could do no wrong.)

Nancy gave me the look all youngest siblings know, the one that says, “Are you stupid?” When you’re grown up, it replaces the look that says, “You’re a nasty little brat.” But I regress.

“Don’t you get it?” my sister asked. Her blue eyes softened. So did her voice. “They loved each other. Always. They just didn’t do it the way you wanted them to.”

Oh.

I remembered then. When they stopped for ice cream because Mom loved ice cream. How they sat at the kitchen table across from each other drinking coffee. How thin my dad got during Mom’s long illness because “I can’t eat if she can’t.” When they watched Lawrence Welk reruns together and loud because—although neither would admit it—their hearing was seriously compromised.
And the letters. The account of their courtship. We found them after Mom’s death, kept in neat stacks. They wrote each other, in those days of multiple daily mail deliveries, at least once a day and sometimes twice. When I read those letters, I cried because I’d never known the people who wrote them.

I have to admit, my parents’ lives had nothing to do with why I chose to write romantic fiction. I got my staunch belief in Happily Ever After from my own marriage, not theirs. But how you feel about things and what you know—those change over the years.

As much as I hated my parents’ marriage—and I truly did hate it—I admire how they stuck with it. I’ve never appreciated the love they had for each other, but I’ve come to understand that it never ended. I still feel sorry sometimes for the little girl I was, whose childhood was so far from storybook that she wrote her own, but I’m so grateful to have become the adult I am. The one who still writes her own stories.

But—and this is the good part—these are the things I know.

Saying “I love you” doesn’t always require words. Sometimes it’s being unable to eat because someone else isn’t. Sometimes it’s stopping for ice cream. Sometimes—and I realized this the other day when my husband and I were bellowing “Footloose” in the car—it’s hearing music the same way, regardless of how it sounds to anyone else.

Marriage is different for different people. So is love. So is Happily Ever After.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Frame @DonKegarise #WindowOvertheSink

A year ago today, I posted this blog written by Don Kegarise. He and Kathy attended a presentation my friend Nan Reinhardt and I did Sunday, and I was reminded of it. I'm  so grateful they came, and so grateful he's willing to share his talent. He has a show going on at the Rochester Library right now. If you live nearby, stop in and see it. His work is wonderful.


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.



Saturday, September 7, 2019

The Fixer Upper by Maggie Mae Gallagher #WindowOvertheSink


The Window welcomes Maggie Mae Gallagher today, here to spotlight her new book (and its wonderful cover!) 

The Fixer Upper

Abby Callier is more in love with Shakespearean heroes than any real man, and she’s beginning to wonder if there is life for her outside the pages of a book. It doesn’t help that her esteemed parents tend to view her as they would one of their science experiments gone wrong. On the eve of finishing her dissertation, she escapes her staid existence to live in the house she inherited from her Great Aunt Evie in the small town of Echo Springs, Colorado. Because, let’s face it, when a woman starts comparing her life to horror films, it might be time for a break.

Sheriff Nate Barnes believes in law and order and carefully building the life you want. In his spare time, he has been remodeling his house in the hope that one day it will be filled with the family he makes. But Nate doesn’t like drama or complications and tends to avoid them at all costs. And yet, when Miss Abigail Callier, his newest neighbor, beans him with a nine iron, he can’t help but wonder if she might just be the complication he’s been searching for all along. It doesn’t hurt that he discovers a journal hidden away by the previous tenant and decides to use Old Man Turner’s advice to romance Abby into his life.

Abby never expected her next-door neighbor, the newly dubbed Sheriff Stud Muffin, to be just the distraction her world needed. The problem is she doesn’t know whether she should make Echo Springs her home, or if this town is just a stopover point in her life’s trajectory. And she doesn’t want to tell Nate that she might not be sticking around—even though she should because it’s the right thing to do, the honest thing—because then all the scintillatingly hot kisses with the Sheriff will come to an abrupt halt. Did she mention that he’s a really great kisser?

Praise for The Fixer Upper:

"Maggie Mae Gallagher writes with warmth and a wonderfully compelling voice - I loved The Fixer Upper!" NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR HEATHER GRAHAM

“Maggie Mae Gallagher makes the reader forget the actual words on the page so they can just enjoy the story as it unfolds.” Nancy Berland, NBPR, Inc. President


Social Media:
Twitter: @magmaegallagher  https://twitter.com/magmaegallagher?lang=en

Excerpt:

Abby spent the next hour cleaning her new room as best she could for the night. She’d work on the full house and give it a proper cleaning come morning, but she’d spent the better part of the day in her Rover and could feel the onset of fatigue settling in her bones. There was a semimodern bathroom across the hall, with one of those claw-foot tubs she’d take advantage of when she wasn’t dragging her feet and ready to go horizontal for eight hours. 

Settled in for the night, she made herself a small picnic of her wine and cheese offerings and added hitting up the local market for all the essentials to her to-do list for the morrow. Her parents would only shake their heads if they could see her in her thermal pajamas, drinking chardonnay directly from the bottle that hadn’t even sported a cork, but a lid that twisted off.
She was toasting her own brilliance when she heard the creak of the front door opening. Grabbing her trusty nine iron, a little gizmo she’d inherited from an ex-boyfriend some years back, Abby cursed at her phone’s low battery. 
“Figures,” she muttered under her breath. 
She left her room, tiptoeing down the stairs, her movements muffled by her thick socks. She rounded the corner, and a beam of light blinded her. 
“Gah!” Screaming, she swung the iron, ready to take on her intruder. All the self-defense classes her parents had scoffed at hadn’t been for naught. Who knew that in a sleepy little mountain town, burglars and vagabonds were a problem? The golf club whizzed over the intruder’s head.
“What the?” a deep baritone barked.
She swung again, determined to fend off whoever the hell thought he could invade her aunt’s place with mischief on his mind. The shadowed outline of a large man loomed behind the beam of light. When he didn’t back off, only kept advancing, her internal panic button hit overdrive. The nine-iron connected with flesh with a thudded whack. 
“Ow, fuck, cut it—”
“Get out or I’ll call the police!” she swore, her pulse hammering, her grip on the nine-iron so tight her hand was fusing into a claw formation. She reared back to strike again when his next words halted the forward progression of her swing.
“I am the police.” 
She blanched, almost dropping her weapon, but then thought better of it. What if he’d lied to disarm her and then would attack?
Nice try, buddy. She wasn’t falling for it. 
“Prove it.” She wasn’t the atypical heroine who idiotically descended into the darkened basement, despite the light mysteriously not working, to investigate the strange noise. She’d studied horror films and knew she was not the dumb bimbo, but the smart woman who survived. His indicating that he was the police was a sub-plot straight out of a B horror film and was precisely the type of thing the killer would say.
She raised the nine-iron into a defensive position as the man moved to her right, flipping on the overhead light while pulling a shiny silver badge from his belt. He held it toward her so that light reflected off the silver star. Blinking as her eyes adjusted, Abby wondered if she was dreaming. Cornflower-blue eyes studied her, dressed in her flannel pink pajama bottoms, tank top, and fluffy purple robe. He was larger than the darkness had suggested, probably a good six-three, and lean. His dark midnight hair fell in curly waves to his jawline, which was covered in dusky stubble. There was a ruggedness to him, indicating that somewhere in his make-up he preferred life outdoors, and it showed. He reminded her of the men gracing the covers of the romance novels she’d hidden from her parents growing up, and still hid from her colleagues. 
She’d always had a bit of a thing for men in uniform, but the only defining mark that even suggested he was an officer was his black jacket with an emblem embroidered into the right shoulder. Otherwise, he looked like a mountain man, in a button-up emerald flannel shirt and blue jeans that rode low over his muscular hips.
Then she focused on the badge. Oh, sweet heavens! The badge read: Sheriff, City of Echo Springs. Why did this have all the beginnings of a campy horror flick? Woman goes to the wilderness to find herself, makes acquaintance with the local law enforcement, and then the army of dolls stuffed inside the home come to life, possessed by a demon spawn from hell, to try to kill the heroine.