Saturday, December 26, 2020

Make A New Plan by Liz Flaherty

It's Christmas morning as I write this. The TV's on, although I'm not sure why. My little battery candle is flickering against the darkness of the window. I'm the only one up, which is what happens when a morning person shares life with a night owl. I've loved seeing the Christmas messages on Facebook this morning, just as I've enjoyed opening each day's deposit of Christmas cards. 

Earlier, someone politicized It's A Wonderful Life in a comment. I did my usual thing--I wrote a reply to the comment, then deleted my reply and scrolled on. It was her page she commented on, after all, and her right to do so. 

But I wonder why she wanted to, on this morning of all mornings when we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace. It's two hours since I first saw it, and I still wonder why she wanted to.

A few months ago, when I was forcing Duane into a conversation that involved...yes, I'll say it...feelings, I asked him what he would change about me. Just one thing, because I wasn't going to start dusting AND remembering to lock the door. What he said, though, and I'm paraphrasing here, was that he wished I was able to let things go. He didn't say, "Holy s***, Liz, you dwell on everything," although the truth is that he would be entitled to say that after nearly 50 years of me...dwelling. (And not dusting in a timely manner or locking doors ever, but we're not going there today.)

I've written about dwelling on things before. Let's be real, I'm old--I've written about everything before, including most of my shortcomings. I have accepted that I'm a dweller.

The day has deepened, a different kind of Christmas but decorated and defined with laughter and good food and "just what I wanted" gifts. I'm once again sitting in front of a computer, and I'm thinking about it again. About the Facebook post I found unnecessarily divisive and rude. I'm not upset about it now, although it disappoints me. But how much time have I given to it by this time? 

Way too much, and what a waste. Maybe I'm wrong about accepting me as I am. As I've always been. Maybe I shouldn't. Maybe I...

December 26. Candle flickering again. The Keurig is producing my morning sustenance. I read over what I wrote yesterday and shake my head.

I need to be a grownup, I acknowledge. I was right the second time yesterday--accepting myself as I am means I'm more limited than I care to be. So I need to make a plan. I need to work on changing the things about myself that I don't like or that might be hurtful to someone else. (Picking on one's son-in-law isn't always funny, but I love you, Jim.)

But I can't change others. I can't control how they think or communicate. I can only accept. Which is much harder than it sounds. I will work on it. If only I can get to that point, maybe giving up dwelling on what I can't change as a way of life will be possible. 

I don't do New Year's resolutions and I always forget the word of the year by sometime in March. I'm almost certain I'll blow this New Year's plan, too, but I'm going to give letting things go my best shot in 2021. 

I hope you and yours had a splendid Christmas. Happy New Year. Make a plan. 

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.

***


Thanks to everyone for their response to Window Over the Sink, the book. As soon as I know how long it will take me to get the books, I will offer them for sale as my friend Joe DeRozier does Heck, I Don't Know...I Just Make Donuts. Signed copies for $8 (if you pick them up) plus an extra $4 if you want them mailed to you. 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Special Gifts by Liz Flaherty

I asked to hear about special gifts this week, and I admit to being surprised not to have heard about many. There is the possibility that people might think I need to write my own column instead of expecting them to do it πŸ˜ƒ, or maybe I just didn't make it clear what I was looking for. Either way, I loved hearing about these gifts and a few more I'll add onto the end. - Liz


6th Street Coffee Company
WE HAVE THE BEST CUSTOMERS EVER! Yesterday I had a customer come in and order a drink and said she would like to buy my customers' drinks. The smiles on my customers' faces when I told them that another customer had taken care of their drinks was awesome. Your kind act touched a lot of people yesterday, a young girl surprising grandma with coffee and a visit, a married couple enjoy afternoon coffee together, a daughter going to spend the afternoon with her mother, just to name a few. All of my customers wanted to thank you for your kind offer and I would like to thank you for spreading Christmas Cheer at 6th Street Coffee Company, Merry Christmas. - Kreig Adkins


Brick Walk - Sarah Luginbill
I am overwhelmed. For two years, I have hung this painting in the gallery off and on as I change out my artwork. Many have admired it, but one lady in particular, Denise, has loved it! On more than one occasion, she said, “Someday I’m going to buy this painting!” 
Saturday, I pulled the painting out of storage again to place it in an empty space in the gallery. I thought of Denise as I hung up the painting. Two hours later—ten minutes before closing time, Denise, whom I had not seen for almost a year, walked in. She had been out walking and “randomly” stopped in the gallery to look at artwork. “I thought about you today,” I told her. We had a wonderful visit, exchanging stories of our daughters and artwork. As she left exchanging contact information, she promised to be back to buy her favorite painting! “Brick Walk” was destined to hang in her home. She walked on that walk when she attended South Peru Elementary. 
But...someone beat her to it! Early Sunday morning, I received a text from her husband. He'd listened to her story when she came home from her walk. “Denise is never going to buy that painting for herself. She is much too frugal," he said with a smile. when he met me at the Gallery. "I have been struggling with what to buy her for Christmas. May I take it with me?” 
He took "Brick Walk" to its rightful home. It’s stories like this that make me love what I do! Thank you Bob and Denise! - Sarah Luginbill

Doud's Orchard

On December 14, from Doud's Orchard: We know that there are many FAMILIES struggling this time of year, especially with the world events. One of our WONDERFUL CUSTOMERS bought a Christmas trees to donate to a family in need. So to contribute to this beautiful gesture, Our family has decided to donate the rest of our Christmas trees to FAMILIES IN NEED of one this holiday season!!! Please contact me here and we will arrange pickup!! We have probably 6-7 left!! Merry Christmas!!! - Judi Behny shared this.



I love Christmas cookies and everything to do with them. One of my favorite holiday parties was a Christmas Cookie Exchange Linda Turner had one year. Jim Reinhardt and his grandson Cam have their own party each year. Grandkids, some of you know, are among the greatest gifts. And cookies aren't bad, either. - Liz 





Special thanks to the person who sent me this one. I'm withholding the writer's name by request.

I saw your request for stories, and it brought to mind a brief incident that continues to make me smile Perhaps 10 years ago, I was standing at the entrance of a now-vacant grocery store on South Broadway ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. It was a bitterly cold Saturday morning with heavy snow coming down and, at least six inches on the ground blown by a persistent wind. I was appropriately dressed for the weather, and except for chilly fingers, I was enjoying the snowy holiday scenery. There was not much foot traffic coming into the store, and I had to entertain myself by playing the bell to the beat of various Christmas songs in my head, and occasionally taking off my gloves and breathing warm(er) air on my fingers. I noticed a solitary person braving the weather and riding a bicycle with a banana seat and high handle bars through the snow north on Broadway with effort. I smiled and rang the person a bell-coded “Good Effort” in my mind. About 15 minutes later, I saw the same person chugging south and wrestling the bike into the store parking lot. The rider peddled through the drifted lot with great effort up to my exposed position under the awning. The biker abruptly stopped in front of me, dressed from head to toe for the weather. There was an opening in the sock hat exposing eyed that were covered by thick glasses. I could not tell if the biker was young or old, male or female, thick or thin. Wordlessly, the right hand shot toward me, holding a covered Styrofoam cup with a couple of drops of hot chocolate on the lid. The silent biker nodded the cup to me. I took it gently into my hands, and immediately the biker peddled away. My muffled “Thank you, Merry Christmas” never made it to the biker’s ears, I’m sure. But my gratitude and wonderment at the unspoken gift brought warmth to my heart and a tear to my eye. Thank you. Merry Christmas. Whoever you are. - Anonymous

I have to admit, without making it a commercial, that a special gift for me this year was the publication of the Window Over the Sink book. It's available at Amazon in both ebook and print and other online bookstores in ebook only. I can honestly say that I couldn't have done it without you, so thank you for the help with columns, for reading the ones that maybe weren't the greatest, and for being friends.


The greatest and most special gift of Christmas is that it celebrates the birth of Christ. I am grateful. Merry Christmas to you all--thanks for giving the Window another year. Have a great week. Stay safe. Be nice to somebody.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Mossy from Swayzee by Joe DeRozier


Mossy Rogers

I have a story.

It was the early 1990s and I had just begun to do wholesale accounts.

If you're unfamiliar with my business, a wholesale account is a business that gets my donuts delivered to them at a reduced cost, then sells them to their customers. It's good for me because, while it's a reduced charge, it's a guaranteed sale. The convenience store absorbs all the risk of anything not sold. 

I was delivering, at the time, to Logansport, then to Rochester. I'd swing back down to Denver then take that road from Denver to Mexico. (When that sign states 10 mph, it isn't kidding! I've found myself in a field more often than I care to remember.)

This man, Mossy Rogers, called the bakery and asked if I delivered to Swayzee. 

Swayzee? Where the heck is Swayzee? 

He responded as is I had lived in a box my whole life. “Swayzee,” he explained, “is a wonderful city on Highway 13, south of Wabash.”

He was obviously very proud to be there. I liked that. He asked when I could bring him samples. 

I told him that I didn't deliver in that area and that he would have to find someone else. 

He paused for a bit, then asked what time I would be there.

There was something...I don't know what, but I knew I had no real choice. I met him at Swayzee Speedking. He tried my donuts and liked them very much. He told me that I would start delivering on Monday.

“Mr. Rogers, I really can't,” I tried to tell him. “I'm not in this area and I work alone!”

Mossy Rogers was not a man with whom you disagreed. He reminded me of an old cowboy that would jump off his horse and stand right in your face with a cigarette carelessly dangling from his mouth. He would peer into your soul and figure you out...my soul was accosted.

I can't tell you if he was 40 or 70 years old. Seriously. He had a rough life he told me about later once we became friends, and fought for everything he had. He was successful but sure didn't rest on his laurels. He's the kind of man that you never once wondered where you stood in his eyes. My respect for him is still immense.

He informed me that Monday was the day and gave me his order and a key. At this point, I was delivering to Swayzee. No choice.

“Mossy,” I asked, “is there any way I could get more orders to make this trip worth it?”

He told me to get in his car. I just did—he told me to. We drove to Sweetser and talked to John Hueston. “John,” Moss told him, “this is Joe DeRozier and he's delivering donuts to you starting on Monday. Give him your order and a key.”

Apparently, the respect/fear of Mossy wasn't just limited to young bakers. I got his order and we left. Moss did this in Marion, then Gas City. We talked to another young business owner, Mike Hicks.

After we got enough accounts to make it worth hiring more people and starting another delivery route, he took me back to Swayzee. 

Moss has long since retired, as several of my account owners have. The bad thing about starting so young is seeing all of the people who made you what you are, move on. Some have passed away...they can't be replaced.

These "old school" guys were made from a different mold than the rest of us.

Young Mike Hicks now owns Speedking. He and I talk at times about these guys and do our best to be like them. We will fail—the world is different. I still deliver to many of those same stores.

I miss those guys.

***


The Window is happy to welcome Joe DeRozier back for a visit. If you don't have his book yet, be sure and get it. Here's the Amazon link, or just stop in the back of Aroma. I think you get a free donut with a book! 



Saturday, December 5, 2020

We Gather in Darkness by Liz Flaherty

We gather in darkness...


No, that's not a quote, or at least it's not one I looked up and found by accident, which is my usual M. O. But it is dark as I sit here, and being a morning person, I'm counting the days until they start lengthening again. I remember years ago when I had an erratic work schedule that required going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark.

I get so tired of it. I'm not afraid of it, and I think it's extraordinarily beautiful--especially on clear nights. But sometimes I long for brightness and clarity...yeah, of knowing what's directly ahead. 

Mental illness has become a many-headed monster during this time, hasn't it? Do people use it as an excuse for saying and doing unforgivable things? Yes, they do, but that's not new--it's something that's always been there. But it's louder now, isn't it? Mental illness in all its many personas is coming out of the darkness swinging its fist and spitting in the face of reason. 

Hatred is a by-product of this peculiar darkness, too, isn't it? It comes through the obsidian night on unmarked roads and attacks. It's there in the light of day, too, but people aren't quite so open about their loathing of different colors, genders, ethnicities, political beliefs, religions, and social statuses. Everyone I know calls their friends and acquaintances by name in the light of day, but in the dark anonymity of social media, names and friendships are forgotten and people are judged freely and openly and often inaccurately.

Pam at Hairtique in Peru has a sign on her building that says, paraphrasing..."We're  in this together." Joe DeRozier gathers us all in with his bridge across the alley. The lights on the courthouse lawn are wonderful. 

All of those things light not just the actual physical darkness of night, but the darkness in our souls and hearts, too. The other day when I was talking to Joe, he said, "Why do people have to be so mean?"

I'd love to know the answer to that, wouldn't you? 

While the quote at the top of this isn't really a quote, the following lyrics are, from "We're All in This Together," by Matthew R. T. Gerrard and Robert S. Nevil. 

"Everyone is special in their own way
We make each other strong...
Were not the same
Were different in a good way
Together's where we belong..."

We do gather in darkness, don't we? Maybe, instead of throwing stones while we're there, we should try helping each other out. Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.  


Saturday, November 28, 2020

Small Business Saturday by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink

 


I didn't catch on until this morning that today is indeed Small Business Saturday. As a writer who'd love to sell more books, I'm an example of Small Business and I understand fully how much buyers, users, and word-of-mouth advertisers are appreciated. 

While you're out today, stop in at Gallery 15. At Aroma. At Garden Gate. At 58 East and Anita's. Buy Joe DeRozier's book. If you're in Logansport, go to Black Dog or Legacy Outfitters or the Nest. Every town around has lots to offer--especially during the holidays. If I've missed you--and I've missed almost everyone--please put your place of business and your hours in comments here or on FB. 

We all value you.

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody. 


Thursday, November 26, 2020

WE GATHER TOGETHER...


I hope you're having the happiest of Thanksgiving Days, even though it may be a different one. I'm so grateful--I know, I use that word a lot; I could overuse worse ones, right?--for the responses you've given for these past two posts. While your turkey or ham is in the oven, here are the rest of the answers I received when I put out the call for help. 

Thanks also to the people who said such kind things to and about me. I'm embarrassed and humbled by them, but they made me so happy. 

Carla Murtha I am grateful that Raymond Scholz just turned 100 years old.


Kari Lemor Thank you to my wonderful husband for supporting me when I wanted to retire early from teaching and start writing full time.

Marsha Lee Kastelic Music, books, safe home, health, food, family, friends, sharing, giving and so many other things in life. Hope! Faith!

Stanley Correll Thanks to all the heath care workers. This will certainly be a different Thanksgiving.


Joyce Thomas I'm thankful for the 68-degree weather in the middle of November.

Letty Roe McKee I am thankful for my sister, She has always been here for me!

Pam Ege A message of thankfulness to all the blessings that are blessings to me, and all the blessings that belong elsewhere.

Thank you to my uncle, his sacrifice as a soldier, and the strength that brought him home, and added so many blessings to my childhood memories. 

And bless you Liz, for all you are, your talent, and your voice and view of the world. That is a blessing to all who you know, and beyond. 

Shannon Lou I am thankful to my husband Rich who carries all my worries and fears on his shoulders.

Wynne Burrell There are so many things I am thankful for; mostly, my husband Bud. I'm so glad my mama taught me to make her and my Nanny's corn bread dressing and Nanny taught my mom. Nanny was my daddy's mother. Funny how wives usually learn to cook from their mothers-in-law. Just coz they love their husbands. (Note: Duane's still waiting for me to cook as well as his mother did. It's not happening. I still miss her.)

Clara Miller I am ever so thankful for my loving parents, Fred and Ethel Wouster. They have always been loving, caring, nurturing parents. The best a child could ask for. Without them in my life I would have been lost.

I am thankful for my sisters and brother who are at this time if our lives banding together to assist our parents in their later years to make them comfortable and safe.

Linda Sanders Prather Thankful for my daughter Amy Gipson for being there for me and running me everywhere!

Rebecca Mungle Family and friends, near and far...

Joann Runkle I am thankful for family and friends as we stick together through all our struggles and challenges of 2020 with our chins up, shoulders back sparking eyes and smiles under our masks!!

Stephen L. Hinkle My mother...she said I could always come home. She may not like something I did or said but she would always love me!

Diana Shoemaker I’m thankful for all the health workers that helped, not only in my recovery, but in Jerry’s recovery from Covid. But I am especially thankful for all my prayer warriors that came to my aide when they told me there was no hope and we had to make some tough decisions. I called on all my prayer warriors and within 24 hours he showed some improvement. We had hope again. It was a rough road and my warriors kept praying and sending cards from everywhere! I will always believe in the power of prayers!πŸ™πŸ»

Me While I know the whole "everyone gets a trophy" concept is widely scorned these days, I've always liked it. Participation prizes go to the ones who come for every practice, who are on time, who hand out the atta boys (or girls) to the stars of the show, and who stay after to clean up. They are hardly ever the best looking, the most talented, the smartest, or the ones with the most money. They may not have good hair or look nice in skinny jeans. But they're the ones I'm thankful for this year and every year. Thanks for being the team. Thank you for always showing up.



Saturday, November 21, 2020

Showing Gratitude #WindowOvertheSink



It's Thanksgiving week. I have a turkey thawing in the fridge--33 cents a pound; thank you, Kroger!--and...well, I guess that's it. There won't be company or three times as much food as we need or four different kinds of pie. Thanksgiving is synonymous with family, and we are staying socially distanced, so it's going to be Duane and me and the three cats.

The cats live outside and, while they are experts at telling time, they are no good at board games and telling and laughing at inappropriate jokes or saying "...do you remember..." and opening up a whole new conversation with everyone talking at once. They don't talk politics or religion, although two of them have been known to go to the church across the road when I do. They don't drink beer and pick on each other and each other's kids the way my boys do or go shopping on Black Friday the way my girls do, giving me a batch of memories every year. The recollections aren't of drinking beer (I don't) or buying things, but of spending the day with my favorite people in all the world. Of Duane asleep on the couch. Of playing Cards Against Humanity and trying to act blasΓ© instead of shocked. Of... 

Wait, they're cats, remember? So, yeah, different.

It's 2020--of course, it's different. So I asked people about who they were thankful to in this year of learning. Of changing. Of hoping for better things to come. I'm adding their answers to my own list of gratitudes. 

Bethani Jackson Agh, 2020...I’m just so very grateful we have (almost!) made it! My kids are healthy, my parents are healthy and even though the circumstances haven’t been ideal, I have LOVED having my boys home with me all the time. Never again in life will this happen and I have not taken it for granted.

Linda Leasure I want to thank Larry Cunningham for all the “little” things he does for me, including transporting my recycling “stuff”! πŸ˜ƒ

Joe DeRozier I thank you, Liz Flaherty.

Not only for all of your help and hard work the last few months, but also for being optimistic, caring, and always smiling. I look forward to our visits and enjoy talking politics with you. You are what we all strive to be like.

Thank you for being the wonderful person you are and for your great writings.

I'm really glad we met!

Mary Harding I'm thankful for my husband.

He's my soul mate, he keeps me focused. He helps in so many ways. He cooks, he takes care of me when I'm ill, fills up my car, and loves me dearly.

Rhonda Bonham I am thankful that I was able to retire at the beginning of the year and help out with my mom and granddaughter this year. Thankful that my mom was able to stay for six months out of the year and that I am able to be home to watch my granddaughter and help her with virtual preschool.

Donna Clark Schmidt Thank you to my mom in Heaven, Dora Clark. You were a great mom and an awesome grandma. All I know of holidays and being a mom and grandma you taught me. Thank you.

Kathleen Thompson I am thankful to the millions of front line workers - the doctors, nurses, police, fire fighters, ambulance crews, grocery and drug store employees, food chain employees, the little people who are never seen - who put their lives on the line for us every single day. Nursing home and daycare workers--people who work for very little pay, but give so much love and care to our most vulnerable citizens. CNAs and cooks, janitors, teachers...

Debby Myers I have an 85-year-old lovely little lady in my family that I am most thankful for this year. Having her with us has taught me a valuable lesson. Having spent nearly my entire life trying to put others needs before mine, this lady has lived her life in similar fashion. This year she developed clear signs of dementia. It first started with memories from long ago that had been buried in her mind. She then seemed to dart ahead to her impending death. Then it changed to little memory of anything at all. She was thankful to have someone with her to hold her hand. I am thankful we could do that for her. So many sadly left us this year with no one with them to hold their hand. The happiest part of this little story is that God did take their hand. That little lady remembers that, even when she forgets my name, so for that I am thankful this Thanksgiving.

Larry L. Cunningham I am thankful for a new day to enjoy nature with all its beauty!

Nan Reinhardt Thankful for my friends who are staying in touch--Gchat with you, Skypes with Maureen, Zooms with my fellow Tule authors, texts and emails from so many others. The loneliness of pandemic life is made so much nicer when I hear from the people I care about. πŸ’—πŸ’—

Judy Ann Lashinski Davis I'm thankful for the military. I have a recently deployed son who has left his wife and six-month-old son to celebrate the holidays without him this year while he serves our country. 

Shirley Greenwald I thank Heather Stegelin for all the help and support during these difficult last three years.

Marilyn Hughes Bishop I’m thankful that I have God in my life also my family and friends. πŸ’–

Denise DeWitt Moeller I am thankful for all the friends I’ve had throughout my life. Especially the ones that I don’t see anymore in this season of my life. They’ve all left an imprint on my heart and I have good memories of time spent together.

Thelma Bodnar I am thankful for my family, my friends and all those who push me to be a better version of myself. ❤️

Nancy Masten I'm grateful for friends who listen, support, and transport. 

Laura Stroud I am very thankful for all of my friends and family that have helped me throughout my cancer journey. I am so humbled by their many thoughts and prayers. You go through life meeting new people, making new friends. You never realize then that those people could become some of the most important people in your life. Not being able to work for most of the year has taken a toll on me and my mother, but because of these friends, that are more like family, we have survived with their help. I can never repay these people, but will be forever grateful. Your friends become your family in times like these. Cherish them. Tell them everyday how much you love them. Time is precious and not guaranteed. Make the most of the time you've been given. For these people, I will keep on fighting. For these people, I will survive.

Thanks to everyone who helped with this. I'll post again Thursday with other messages from friends. Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Promises to Keep by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink

On behalf of Jerra Moreland-Kraning, thank you for visiting her post on the Window last week. Although she is still riding on Covid's roller coaster, she's doing it from home and appreciates everyone's concern.  


It's been...quite a week, hasn't it? I'm writing this on Friday, which I try to do most weeks to keep myself from the "oh, crap, it's Saturday morning and I've only written seven words!" scenario. In truth, since the column isn't in any publications at the present time, I'm my own boss as to its deadline. (It should be noted here that my boss doesn't pay well, but there is no dress code and no one cares how often I leave my desk.) But the Window on Saturday morning is, for me, a promise to keep. 


That makes me think of teachers--yeah, I know, I think of teachers a lot--and their schedules during this time of strangeness and worry and overload. I hear what they say, I see the videos of elementary teachers reading aloud to their kids, I feel their frustration. At the end of the day, though, regardless of their dedication level, they have promises to keep to their students. And they do. Day after day after day.

My mind goes from teachers to health care workers. They are so tired. Not all of them, I suppose. But those who are, the ones who think and sometimes say aloud in their exhaustion and frustration, "I didn't sign up for this," keep on doing it. 

The moon was beautiful this morning. I walked out to the office through the cold and wet, but there it was in the east, God's thumbnail. Pale orange against the darkness of the sky. It's still there. In my knows-better mind, it's lighting the way for the sun to come up, elbowing its way through the overcast to ensure us that we have another day to get things right.

I'm a morning person, so it's no surprise that I'm up well before daylight, slurping coffee eagerly and telling myself that today I will not eat too much or too often. I will not spend too much time on Facebook. I will clean off the kitchen island--I know it used to be blue. 

We all have lists, don't we, of things we should do, things we want to do, things we know we'll never do (the island comes to mind...), and things we must do. We also have promises we make to others and ones we make to ourselves. 

They are important. 

Background by Sarah L. Luginbill

This column didn't go at all the way I intended, which as you know happens a lot, but I'm going to end it on a decidedly cheerful note. You all know Joe DeRozier, right? He's the "dusty old baker" on Broadway in Peru. He's half of the Dough & 5-0 Show, a successful entrepreneur, and an all around good guy. And did I mention that he's also a published author? Heck, I Don't Know...I Just Make Donuts is available now! You can order a print copy from him, too, at https://www.deroziers.com/book-order-form. He'll sign the book for you and I have it on good authority that he'll give you a free donut!

I hope you order a book, that you enjoy it, and that you give it a great review. 

Have a good week. Stay safe. Keep promises. Be nice to somebody. 


Saturday, November 7, 2020

I'm Not Terrified by Jerra Moreland-Kraning #WindowOvertheSink

(Added this morning, November 7. Jerra is in the hospital with Covid. I am scared for her. Please keep her in your hearts and your prayers. - Liz)

Please welcome my friend Jerra Moreland-Kraning to the Window this week. This column started as a Facebook post, but it needs a bigger audience than that. Jerra is so many things (including a popcorn-eating fiend; I only know this because she was keeping up with me...) and has such a great heart I feel honored to share this piece of it. 

It was Homecoming Week at the high school where I work. Staff and students were outside on the football field. Everyone was having a great time! I felt the sting on the back of my neck. I knew I had minutes before my throat would completely swell shut and cut off my entire air supply. First responders are a good twenty minutes out from our location. There would not be enough time to wait. I would die.

But, I'm not terrified. I am not panicking. I unpack my emergency kit and begin self administering epinephrine, Benadryl, steroids and Ativan. I set a timer on my phone, so I will wait the appropriate amount of time before administering the second round of epinephrine. I begin vomiting and aspirating.

I can't talk because my tongue, my lips and my throat are swelling. So, I hand the pre-typed card I have to the person with me. The instructions read to call 911, followed by a list of the emergency meds, my regular medications, my allergies, and my emergency contact, family doctor and pulmonologist.

The school nurse, volunteer fire department, school resource officer, and the athletic trainer were with me while my body was suffocating itself to death. I could see the fear on everyone's face. All of these individuals are trained for medical emergencies, but there was nothing they could do. They felt helpless and frightened. An ETA on the ambulance was radioed in and it was still ten minutes out and they looked at each other--worried.

But I was not worried. I have been through this before. I know the medication works. I know it takes time. I know I am going to be okay...and I was.

I have no emergency kit in my purse for COVID. I don't have access to life-saving medications and medical equipment. Doctors, nurses, scientists, specialists and many more are standing by with that same worried look that those trained professionals had with me. They stand by helpless while a patient dies. Nobody knows what to do, so everyone is just doing their best.

A plea to the public to be cautious, socially distance, wear a mask, and close the schools when there is a spike in cases is simply a plea to hang in there we are trying to fix it.

We live in an instant gratification society. "What's the end game?" "When will things be normal?" "Our kids have lost so much."

There is no normal. We adapt. There is no end game. We adapt. Your kids have you and you have each other. They may not have organized sports but they are having dinner and a game night at home with you. We adapt.

We simply don't know enough yet. But, we know a lot more then we did in March! In six months we will know even more. It takes time...and no one wants to be inconvenienced and put off any longer.

I will wear my mask. I will socially distance and I will stay home when I need to stay home. I will do it for me and I will do it for the members of my community because we ALL matter.

***

I am a High School English teacher to an incredible group of students at a rural Indiana school. I am the mother to two handsome sons and three amazing step-children. I am a wife to an EMT. I am also a good friend, a supportive colleague and more. I am blessed to be considered a valuable person to many lives. 

Even though... I am an "at risk" person for COVID-19. I am someone who has Hyper IgE Syndrome. Defined as a rare primary immunodeficiency disease characterized by eczema, recurrent staphylococcal skin abscesses, recurrent lung infections, eosinophilia (a high number of eosinophils in the blood) and high serum levels of IgE. I am allergic to many things (see above.)

These reactions have at times and perhaps far too often resulted in Anaphylaxis. I have walked to the edge of life and been brought back... too many times to count. At times intubation has been needed to live. My family has been told to expect the worse, more than once. I am one of the many precious reasons people are asked to wear a mask, socially distance and stay home if they are sick. 

I am.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Carrying the Joy by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink



It's 4:50 AM. I'm in my office with my coffee. I've already emptied the dishwasher, made coffee, taken the morning's ration of pills, and done the requisite teeth-brushing. I'm wearing jeans and a sweatshirt and fuzzy footies that I will change later, when I'm warmer and likely to stay that way. It's one of the things I've learned with growing old...older. My body thermometer is out of whack. What feels good at 4:50 will be way too hot at 10:15, and I'll change. I used to toss clothes into the laundry after a single wearing. Not so anymore; even in the age of Covid, they won't get dirty in four or so hours unless I've gone somewhere that leaves me feeling uncomfortable..

Most of the time, I like being older. I wouldn't give up the experiences I've had, the places I've been, the people I've loved and still do. I've had my heart broken often enough to know it still works even if all the pieces don't go back together the way I'd like them to. I'm able to enjoy and appreciate art, music, ice cream, and the daily beauty fix of sunrise and sunset. While my joints tend to hurt, they all still move. They probably creak, but my hearing is compromised enough I can't hear them. 

Some of the joys in being a septuagenarian are unexpected. Google is one--how did you think I knew how to spell septuagenarian? Dressing however you want is another. It's especially fun to wear what a blonde 20-something on Facebook assures you is completely wrong for you. 

But I wasn't going to write about the joys today, because as important as they are, there are other things, too, that aren't so joyful. 

Sleep is...odd. The night before last I slept nine hours, while last night it was around five. I like five better, but sometimes nine is necessary and I don't get to choose. At 3:15 this morning, I was awake and worrying about my sister and brother and my niece. About the farm where we grew up. About my friend in Kansas and my friend in Georgia and my sister-in-law whose immune system...isn't. 

I repeat things. Incessantly. Or maybe it's not incessant--I don't really remember. If I remembered, I wouldn't repeat them. So, if I'm telling you the same story for the seventh or tenth time, do us both a favor and stop me. 

There is a constant feeling of time running out, made more prevalent by the pandemic and the vitriolic politics of these painful days. I want, for the I-don't-know-how-manyeth time, truth and respect. I will give it to you, too--it shouldn't be a one-way street. 

While I'm not afraid of dying, I want living to be healthy and productive and a good time. I want dates with my husband, lunches with girlfriends, and oh-so-much time with my kids and grandkids. 

This is what happens when you sit down in front of the computer screen at 4:50 AM. It finds you pensive and reflective and wishful. The coffee is especially good then and it's surprising to find how much of it you can drink in the first couple of hours of the day. Before daylight, I've had more cups than I usually have by noon.

Have I mentioned yet that I hate Daylight Savings Time? No? Well, I do. 

It's 9:50 AM now. I'm on my...not sure which cup. The autumn colors are still vibrant out the west window. Birds are squabbling over the suet in the feeders. The cats sit at the door of the office, checking on me. Duane texts from the house. Doing okay? 

***

It is the next day now. I've done what people my age do--I've gone to the hospital for a mammogram and a bone density exam. And I've sat here and wondered why I can't make this particular column work. Because...you know, it's not. 

I think it's because, although I'm no stranger to complaining, that's really not what you come here to see, is it? All those not-so-joyful things are just incidental in the long run. They're there, they have to be addressed, but then we can go on to bigger, better, and happier things. If we think we're running out of time, we just need to make better use of what's there. By laughing, say, or making cookies, or volunteering. Or by telling good stories, even if you're repeating yourself. 

There are always joys.

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody. 

 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

The Most Beautiful Things by Debby Myers

 

If you’ve read my writing before, you know I don’t usually begin with something like this.

When I was a little girl of three, my baby brother was born. Daddy woke me and told me it was time for Mommy to go to the hospital and for me to go stay with Grandma Gigi. They had gone over the plan with me. When the time came, Gigi would wait with me, and we would make my favorite pancakes while we waited for the baby. My whole body filled with excitement. I put my coat over my pajamas and ran to the car. I’ve treasured that feeling, as it is my first real memory. It is often how we are feeling at a specific time that triggers our memories.

That memory came from a feeling of loss. I had just learned that a dear friend’s father passed unexpectedly from a massive heart attack. It was the same way my own father died 30 years ago. I began to think of him…and of Grandma Gigi…and of my brother…and of that first memory. Memories of these three parts of me are bittersweet now that they have all gone, but I won’t let them be forgotten.

For the last several months, most of us have spent a lot of time complaining,
blaming, and worrying about the problems this virus has caused. A lot of negativity seems to have taken over our TVs, radios, newspapers, social media, and conversations just when we are all being forced to stay home with not much to do except see and hear it all. I want to give you a look at how, during this time, I’ve done my best to stay positive.

With being quarantined, we’ve all felt fear, confusion, and a disconnect. I feel like we can take this time to share our memories and communicate with loved ones, whether it be by phone, text, video chat, or while wearing a mask in a positive
way. Being mandated to stay at home has had its perks that no one really talks about. Instead most seem to focus on being quarantined. Don’t get me wrong, there are many reasons we don’t like it. The way I’ve managed to get through it is through spending my time remembering.

When I begin to feel loneliness, it’s a feeling I fight off (and so do many others) almost daily. I’ve coaxed myself to remember good memories of friends and times we spent together. So many are with childhood friends. I made my first real friend at birth, growing up together, staying close for 57 years now. Other memories with work friends or theater friends. This gives me a feeling of joy. I’m being forced to be alone, but even before the pandemic there were many times I chose to be.
Knowing I have friends who would come in an instant if I asked keeps that feeling of loneliness at bay and brings me that joy feeling instead. 

One night during the quarantine, I had all five of my grandchildren spend the night here. No matter what the risk of a virus, they were the humans I refused to give up. Being with them brings feelings of deja vu, unconditional love, and amazement. When I get those feelings, I try to share memories with them that I hope one day they will all remember…well not Joelle since she’s only two.

I told them that night about how I walked to and from school 12 blocks every day, no matter what the weather (no exaggeration). As a kid, I was decked out in
clothes for all seasons – sunglasses and a floppy hat for summer; a windbreaker jacket and sock hat for fall; boots, mittens, scarf, snow pants and a hooded heavy coat for winter; and a rain coat, umbrella, and galoshes for spring. Two of the kids
smiled and secretly rolled their eyes, two of them were attentive and giggled…and Joelle, well, like I said, she’s only two.

I’ve already told them about both of my grandmas and grandpas, even the ones they had never met. I’ve shared memories of being in the circus, different jobs I’ve had, and about their own parents when they were their age. These topics keep them intrigued, asking questions, and giggling…and giggling. I have pictures of family all around my house and I feel pride when I show them and share memories of when they were taken.

Probably more important, I’ve talked with my older grandchildren about hard lessons I’ve learned – the time I tried to walk across the top of my swing set when I was nine, the time I got caught shoplifting when I was 15, the time I hit the overhang of a hotel with a U-Haul truck when I was 22, the time I bungee jumped when I was 30 – just to name a few. I’ve touched on serious topics too – religion, education, safety, dating, and about my disease, in language they could understand.

The next time they are here, I plan to share more. I hope they will remember Nana, and one day they will tell my stories to their own children after I’m gone. When I have the feeling of being needed, I make some of my best new memories.

If we end up being quarantined again, take the time to stop trying to complete your second “to do” list and find a comfortable place to sit down or lie down. Let your memories take over. You may cry and laugh, but it will make you feel and
remember life at a different time.

Being quarantined will be a story to tell for the rest of our lives. For our children and grandchildren, we can’t let this be a bad memory they carry with them and leave them with feelings of hate. Let’s all try to keep those feelings of love that pull on our heartstrings when we hear stories of doctors and nurses saving lives, neighbors helping neighbors, and peaceful protests for unity. Remember those good feelings so you can trigger those good memories.



Saturday, October 17, 2020

Hey, Mom...

 I wrote this in 2010. I'm posting it here because it's October and Breast Cancer Awareness is important. Thanks for reading



My mother died in September of 1982. She raised five children to adulthood and buried a little girl at three, something she never got over. It took having children of my own to realize that no one ever does. She was a good housekeeper, made the best cookies and homemade bread imaginable, and had a way with potato soup. Although she worked at the instrument factory in Elkhart until she married Dad, she didn’t work outside the home again until we were grown and gone, and then she was in demand as a caregiver.

Ours was not the kind of mother-daughter relationship you normally read about. We disappointed each other often. We argued a lot. I never seemed to please her, so after while, I stopped trying. I was in the midst of being a wife and a mother and working a job and in the process of doing that, I was a terrible daughter. Even all these many years later, it’s hard to type that. Hard to admit it.

It wasn’t that we never had peace. We did. We laughed together sometimes. When she was ill, I took her for treatments once in a while, though not often enough, and stopped for lunch at places she liked. The last words I ever said to her that I was sure she heard were that I loved her and would see her later. She said, “Don’t go. It’s going to be so long,” and those words haunt me still. Because even though she asked me to stay, I didn’t.

My first book was published in 1999 and I was so excited I could hardly stand it, but I sat and held the book and cried because she hadn’t lived to see it. “I wish she knew,” I said to my husband, and Duane said, “She does.” I hope he was right. My faith says he was, but my inner voice just reminds me that I wasn’t a good daughter.

I was in my early 30s when Mom died. When my kids approached that age, I went into a private panic because what if history repeated itself? I wasn’t nearly ready to leave them. I still had things to tell them, things to show them, advice to offer that they might not want but would listen to cheerfully before disregarding.

You don’t stop missing your mother with the passage of time. The gap in your life that was left by her leaving doesn’t fill up with other things. It loses its sharp edges, but it’s still there.

Why do I suddenly feel compelled to write about my mom, something I’ve never done a lot of? Her birthday was in April, Mother’s Day in May, the anniversary of her passing a month ago yesterday, so why now?

Because October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

It’s time to make an appointment for your mammogram if you haven’t already had one. If you can’t afford it, call your doctor’s office. Yes, I know. A federal medical panel determined you don’t really need a mammogram yet, and even if you’re already getting them, they said you don’t need to do it as often.

I don’t care. I don’t care what they say. Get one anyway. I was still in my 30s when I had a biopsy. Thankfully, it was benign, but the lump showed up in the mammogram I had, not because I found it on my own.


The U. S. Postal Service sells Breast Cancer Research stamps. They’re pretty stamps, they’re a reminder to everyone who notices one on an envelope, and they help a slew of people. At least in October, you might buy a sheet. You could stop in at the post office on the way to your mammogram.

If you know someone who’s doing a Breast Cancer Walk, support them. Pledge money, pledge time, make the walk yourself if you have the time, health, and resources.

Breast cancer isn’t just the disease of the month. Even though research and improved drugs have made its statistics somewhat less terrifying, it still manages to reach every family you know.

Yes, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but once it’s touched your family, you’re aware of it forever. Mom may have died in 1982, but she was ill for a long time before that. Although there were good times in the last seven years of her life, there were horrific ones, too. Even if you were a bad daughter, even if you’re an incurable optimist, when you remember those horrific times and how someone you loved suffered, it twists you up with a grief you can’t get enough mammograms or buy enough stamps or walk far enough to diminish.

So that’s why I wrote about my mom. To help keep you aware. Maybe to talk you into making that appointment or that donation. And to tell her I’m sorry I wasn’t a better daughter. If I had it to do over again, I would be.

But sometimes there aren’t any do-overs. I guess I wanted to remind you of that, too.

Have a good week. Make that appointment.

Till next time.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

An Autumn Afternoon by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink


I have a story to tell. It's about a teacher, a barber, and a little kid. I'm not using names because in reality, it's not my story to tell and because I'd never want anyone to be hurt because I told it. So, for the sake of privacy, we'll say the teacher's name is Bill, the barber is Mike, and the kid is Jake.

Like most teachers, Bill's concerned about "his kids." He worries that they get enough to eat, that they have clothes without holes in them, that they're able to be clean. He makes sure they have Christmas gifts if not having them is a possibility. Sometimes he takes them to the dentist, the doctor, or even...yeah, the barber. 

So, one day recently, Bill took Jake out--with his mother's permission--for pizza and to pick up a few outfits for school. And to get a haircut. Bill made an appointment with Mike on-line for that. While they were in the shop getting Jake's haircut, Bill explained what he and Jake were doing that day, and Mike mentioned a place to find some shoes. 

Bill and Jake had never met Mike, but later that night, Bill had a message on his phone from Mike, sharing the phone number of the place with the shoes. Because he was concerned about the kid whose hair he'd cut. 

I suppose, looking up at the paragraphs above, this isn't much of a story. No one got shot, no one died, no one lied (except me, about the names), and it didn't even hit Facebook.

We all know stories like that, don't we? I don't think we tell them often enough, but we know them. We've played all the roles. We've helped those we care about, we've helped ones we don't even know, and we've been the ones who needed the help. 

I don't know that Jake will remember that day of lunch and new clothes and a haircut. Bill does it often enough I don't know that he'll remember this particular story. Mike might remember, but maybe not. 

But they will all remember that their lives were all changed for the better by what transpired on that autumn afternoon somewhere in central Indiana. I heard the story, and it changed mine, too. Thanks to Bill and Mike, and good luck, Jake. 

Have a good week. Be nice to somebody. Change a life. 

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Tiny Threads by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink

“Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.” - Simone Signeret


One of the best parts of being married a long time is that you always have someone to laugh at. The reason I'm bringing this up now is that this week, I was the one who got to do the laughing. There have been other weeks in the past 49 years when the Other Half of this relationship was the one doing the laughing. One or two, anyway. I probably won't write about them. 

Duane had cataracts removed from both eyes. His left eye was last week, his right eye this week. For both surgeries, he had to ride all the way to Warsaw with me driving--twice each time! He had to do this without complaining. Much. He did some gasping and grabbing of the armrest on the passenger door. 

I said, very quietly and gently, "What's the matter now?"

He said, "Nothing." He spoke stiffly. His hand may have been trembling where it was fisted around the shoulder strap of his seatbelt. I'm not sure if he was considering escape or thinking about hitting me with it, but he did neither. 

For his surgery, he received the kind of anesthetic that was (1) in the long term, responsible for Michael Jackson's death and (2) the same thing that is used when a person gets a colonoscopy. Usually this medication inspires Duane to spend money. He complained for years that the colonoscopy that was fully covered by insurance  cost $1000 out-of-pocket because we went home by way of Gilbert's and Breakaway. We went to Dairy Queen, too, but he doesn't even mention that.

But, anyway, the dosage was less this time, I guess, so he wasn't in shopping mode. He also had a little trouble getting into the car. His foot couldn't seem to find where it needed to go. I hope that the nurse who escorted him out thought I was being concerned when I bent over him to help. You know, because I would have looked mean if she'd seen me laughing so hard I couldn't talk.

On the way home, he told me about another patient at the eye clinic. Three times. Now, we're both at the age where we repeat things a lot, but not usually three times in fifteen minutes. I kept saying, "Uh-huh," and he kept looking at me with one normal eye and one that looked...not normal at all. It was kind of like when people have gauges in their ears (sorry--your business if you do); I don't want to keep looking at them, but I can't help myself. 

When he had his other eye done, and I drove him again, we were in my new car. Which I didn't know very well. My steering wheel was in the wrong place, as was my seat, and my lights kept dimming and brightening themselves. Also, my old car--which I drove for nine or ten years; I don't remember which--didn't have much get-up-and-get. As in, it was tempting to open the door and push with my foot on the pavement when I needed to take off or when I needed to get out of the way of some big monster of a car with six cylinders in it. The new one has the same number of cylinders as the old one, but it also has a turbo charger in it, so when I put my foot on the gas, it takes off without me pushing, pedaling, or swearing. I like this a lot, but that day I was still in the mode of giving both the passenger and myself whiplash.

Sometimes he's just so unappreciative of the things I give him. 

We stopped for breakfast on the way home on all four trips we made to Warsaw--often enough that the waiter knew what we wanted to drink and that we use Splenda in our coffee. It is well known among everyone who knows us that I might be just the slightest bit messy. I don't think I own a single top without a food stain on it. In all fairness, other than the occasional snicker, Duane very seldom even mentions it.

Unlike me, when--still anesthesia-impaired--he took a bite of hash-browns that ended up tumbling gracefully down the front of his shirt and onto his plate...and maybe the table. I don't know. Once again, I was laughing at the person I love more than my life. What kind of terrible person am I?

Oh, before I feel too guilty...we took the new car to our daughter's house, where I was talking about...where I was bragging about not having to have a key to drive or unlock the car. Just this fob thing, you know, in my pocket. (I haven't lost it yet, but it'll happen.) I said all you had to do was open the door. 

Except that Duane couldn't. He tried, then held up his hands in defeat. "It doesn't work." And, I gotta tell you, it was so cool. I just walked around the car, pushed the little button, and that door opened right up. The first try! 

I've spent 49 years hearing noises in cars that would go mysteriously silent when Duane listened for them. Not that he ever told me it was all my imagination, but...yeah, the noise would never be heard again. It was so empowering that he couldn't open that door! And so funny. I laughed, our daughter and son-in-law laughed. Best and loudest of all, Duane laughed. I'm not sure he meant it, but he laughed. 

In case you'd wondered why I used that quote up there, this is why. Because being able to laugh not just with each other but at each other--those are some of the strongest and best of of those hundreds of tiny threads. They are the minutes that make the years easier to attain. 

Have a great week. Laugh at someone you love. Be nice to somebody. 

 


Saturday, September 26, 2020

Make memories... by Liz Flaherty

 


A re-visit this week. I ended up with more things to do than I had week to do them in. Sound familiar? Apologies for the wonky setup--Blogger isn't too friendly these days. Thanks for reading!

          I keep saying, “The hardest thing about being old is…” There’s nothing wrong with saying that, except that I finish it differently almost every time. Here’s my list for this week.

·         Your body betrays you. If you get down, you can’t get up. When you leave a doctor’s appointment, you may as well make another one, because by the end of the week, you’ll need to go back. Gravity, that wicked witch, has attacked you and taken away certain…assets you thought you had. Well, she didn’t take them away, but she certainly did put them in a different place.

·         Losing your memory. Because you don’t have it anymore and oh, boy, do you miss it. You can, of course, remember what you wore to school on the first day of seventh grade (blue skirt, white blouse, red T-strap shoes), the boy you had a crush on when you were eight (Randy), and a mean thing you said to someone in Mrs. Kotterman’s class that still makes you squirm (sorry, Suzanne). However, you can’t remember what you went into the next room for, why you had to go to Kroger’s, and the name of your firstborn if he’s the one you’re talking to. You can’t remember that you told that same story just yesterday to the—cringe—same person you’re telling it to today.

·         Losing people you love. Nothing makes this any easier. It happens more and more as you age. I remember being surprised because my aunt’s funeral wasn’t crowded because, after all, Aunt Gladys had always gone to everyone’s funeral. Oh, yes, exactly. Everyone’s. All of her immediate family and most of her friends had passed before her. Only her nieces, nephews, and younger friends were left to mourn and to share the wonderful stories she told. There’s nothing you can do about the losses; they are just a bitter fact of life.

·         Things that make you say “when I was your age…” In the first place, it’s probably not accurate. I grew up in the 1960s. No one thought any of us would amount to a hill of beans. Everyone over the age of 30 hated our music, our clothes, our politics, our protesting ways, our language, our ethics, our mores and morals, our work ethic, our hair, our movies, our books, the way we sat on the border wall around the courthouse, our sunglasses, our regular glasses, our language, our attitudes, our…oh, good heavens, I’m out of breath. Does any of this sound familiar to you? What that means, I think, is that every older generation thinks every younger generation is a waste of human flesh. And we’re all wrong.

·         They don’t make cars like they used to. I must admit, I still think there are no new cars as pretty as a 1957 Chevy, a 1965 Mustang, or a 1968 Camaro. That being said, I expect to get at least 200,000 miles out of a car now, and that wasn’t the case in “when I was your age.”

·         And that’s just the list for this week. Goodness knows what will be the hardest thing about aging the next time I talk about it.

And now, oh, yes, now comes the good part. The part where I say, “The coolest thing about getting old is…”

·         Your body still has parts that work. If you look around, you know way too many people whose do not. Often, though, they will still have eyes that sparkle, a laugh that draws you right into a warm place, or conversation that gives you knowledge you didn’t have and ideas that need to be considered.

·         Finding your memories. This does include the old ones, but there are new ones, too. Like when Duane, my husband, had a total knee replacement. Our grandson Eamon, who was six at the time, told his mother that Papaw was going to get a new leg. Eamon observed that he thought Papaw should get a new head instead. (Nana may or may not have agreed with this—I don’t remember.) The next time they came to the house, Duane was still in his recliner with his knee stretched out and when they came up the driveway, I ran and got a 22-inch zipper and wrapped it around Duane’s neck. He tilted his head to one side and we waited for Eamon to come in. The truth is, we probably marked the kid for life—he was horrified—but it also gave the family a memory we will laugh about forever.

·         The people you love. No, nothing makes losing them a cool thing, but loving them in the first place can never be taken away. Even when memories do swirl around in your mind, the love stays there.

We’ve all heard the story of the man who visited his wife in an Alzheimer’s unit every single day. “Why do you do that?” someone asked him. “She doesn’t even know who you are anymore.”

“You don’t understand,” said the man, “I still know her.”

·         Things that make you think (not say) “When I was your age…” You may not know this, but the music in the 1960s was the best music there’s ever been. I saw on Facebook the other day when some millennials were chortling about senior chords and talking about how silly they were (as opposed to parachute pants, I assume) and I just remembered how much fun they were. Fifty years after the fact, I still regret that I didn’t have any.

·         Cars. I like remembering when those coolest-cars-of-all were new and even my own Camaro—an '86 not a '68. But mostly I like my SUV that’s easy to get in and out of, the GPS that finds me every time I get lost, and the fact that my seven-year-old car with its 135,000 miles is still on its second set of tires and its second set of brakes.

So, yeah, right the second time. There really are parts of aging—of being aged—that are crummy. And lots more parts that are just the coolest thing.  

     Have a good week. Stay safe. Make memories. Be nice to somebody. 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Golden Days and Layers

There's been a lot grief in 2020--we all know that. A lot of loss. But it's September now, with cool nights and breezes that sift into your hair and make you smell apples and leaves and bonfires.

It is, I know, a dying, decaying time as the earth prepares for winter, but the bean fields are golden, as are the corn tassels and some of the trees and the quick shimmer of the sun on the river. The colors that begin to emerge in September are bright and burnished and hopeful. 

There are golden sounds, too. Performers sharing their music both digitally and--where there's space--in person. The bleachers at junior high and high school football games. 


I should have finished writing this when I started it on Friday morning, but I didn't. I had other things I needed to do...and now Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died. For many of us, the colors have dimmed. Rest in power, Your Honor, and thank you. 

But this time of year is also about layers. On Tuesday I went to a meeting at ten in the morning, wearing my third shirt of the day. I started hopefully (and foolishly) in a tank top, changed to a sweatshirt, and by the time I went to the meeting, was in short sleeves--with a hoodie in the car because you just never know. Last night when we went to dinner, Duane wore shorts--and a golf sweater. 

School's back in session. Football's being played. But the layers are uneven these days, because caution changes things. Disagreement, almost the only constant in these change-of-season layers, makes the edges of the tiers rough-edged and sharp. 

I can't seem to come to a good place this morning, and I'm sorry. If you have good news, I hope you'll share it. 

Have a good week. I hope you see bright colors and find kindness in the layers. Stay safe. Be nice to somebody. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

All Are Welcome by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink


Last week, I got political in the column. Thanks to everyone who read and responded. To the friends I lost because of a stance I took, I'm sorry to have lost you. I wish you happy.

Regardless of the title above, I'm not going to step further into controversy by talking about religion; however, I am going to talk about church. No, about churches. 

A cradle Methodist, I grew up in the Gilead Church. I say I grew up in it, but quite

honestly I got out of going every chance I got. Eventually I stopped altogether. Over the years I started again somewhere else. Stopped. Went occasionally. Then went and have stayed. Most of the time. One thing I know now if I didn't know it before Covid is that the church is its people, not its buildings. 

But, oh, the buildings. I'm not sure how I would feel about them if I were non-Christian, but I love them. All of them. I've managed to visit at least one in every city I've ever visited. I like the old ones best, the ones where you can feel the weight of centuries of heartbreak and hope when you go through the doors. I am always overwhelmed by the sheer size of the big ones, and usually slide into a pew to do my praying, because once I'm in the pew I'm one-on-one with God again.


In the wayback, when Duane was in Vietnam, St. Charles in Peru kept its doors unlocked--at least during the day--and I used to go in there after work and light a candle for Duane, dropping a dime into the metal coin box on the table. I'd go to Mass sometimes, too. I don't know if it was because I actually preferred the Catholic faith to my own or because I liked wearing a lace mantilla--women all covered their heads then.


At the little church in Ammons, Kentucky where my mother-in-law grew up, the floor used to slope so much on the left side that leaving the church was like doing a mini-mountain-climb. 

The title to this column, of course, is...I don't know, wishful thinking, maybe. Or selective memory. Not everyone feels welcome in every church. Not every church makes everybody feel welcome. There are "Christians" who go to church because they want to be seen there. "Christians" who go to church until they've taken advantage of every avenue of mission open to them. "Christians" who, as Father Hoffmeyer said all those years ago at St. Charles, "Hit the bars, hit the booze, and hit the box [confessional]." He said something else about hitting their knees, but I don't remember it well enough to quote it. There are Christians who aren't Christians. 

But I'm not talking about Christians--or I wasn't; I'm not sure how that paragraph happened. I'm talking about churches. About places of worship regardless of the faith they represent. They are way up there on my gratitude list. In action as well as intent, most of them are places of sanctuary, places where they will feed the hungry and clothe the naked (Matthew 25:40). Places that do indeed open their doors to all. Places of fellowship and worship and acceptance and tolerance. 


It saddens me that so many churches are closed. I'm glad to see some of them being restored and repurposed (thank you, Dave Van Baalen). I don't pretend to know what comes next in religion--I can only take care of my own--but that doesn't make me any less grateful for what I have learned and for the places I've learned it. 

Have a great week. Stay safe. Be nice to somebody.