Saturday, October 16, 2021

Beauty and Gratitude

With apologies for not keeping up well at all, I'm using a post here that I wrote for another blog last week. But first I have some people to thank.

Joe DeRozier. Joe DeRozier. Joe DeRozier. For being the kind and giving person he is and for all the help he is to the arts in the community. 

Denny and Duane, two of the Three Old Guys, whose music and nice-guy-ism never fail to inspire. Barb and I will keep you for a while longer, at least. 

Royal Center Library and Monticello Rotary for making me welcome this week and listening to me ramble--and for the nice gifts, too. I love presents!

The people who came to the "Bit of A Party" last night and spent some time, bought some things, and laughed with us.

And especially, Tahne, Chris, Laura, and Jock Flaherty for the trip to Maine. While I don't think 2021 has been the best of years in some ways, it has filled my memory bank to bursting, and I am so, so grateful. 

***

The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.” ― Louisa May Alcott


Today I toured Orchard House, the home of Louisa May Alcott. The weather in Concord was drizzly and on the gloomy side. The house itself had sloping floors and walls and ceilings that were the south side of elegant. The fireplaces were small, as were some of the rooms. The windows were crooked and tiny-paned. Cobwebs crept into a few places. Blue tarp covered some roof.

The desk Bronson Alcott made for his daughter Louisa was little more than a half-moon shaped slab of wood painted white to match the woodwork it was built around. A desk Louisa bought herself later had a top considerably less than half the size of mine at home. It reminded me that all you really need to write is paper, a pen that feels good in your hand, and the heart to tell your story. 

It was wonderful.

If you've ever read Little Women, or seen any of the movies with the same title, you know the March family were tenderly drawn replicas of the Alcott family. You've imagined a hundred times the rooms where Marmee dispensed her wisdom, where Hannah served the family she loved, where Beth played the piano. You've envisioned Jo "scribbling" at the desk (although she was in the garret, not her bedroom), and Amy being...Amy. You attended Meg's wedding in the parlor and wept with her when her beloved John died ten years later in Little Men.

You've known the Marches weren't rich, that Mr. Alcott marched to a very different drum and that Mrs. Alcott was the glue that held things together. That the loss of Lizzy--Beth--was a heartbreak that stayed with them the rest of their lives. 

Orchard House just cemented the relationship. Although it was beautiful outside--I don't think anything in Concord could NOT be beautiful--the inside was just a house, where people lived, loved, laughed, and lost. All the things that we build our own lives from. All the things we build our own stories from.

Like I said, wonderful. Thanks, Louisa. 

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A Bit of A Party!

 We hope to see you there!



This Friday we're going to have a "Bit of a Party"

65 North Broadway
Peru, Indiana
Friday, October 15th
4-7 PM
We're going to have Wine from our Wineworks.



Art from our Gallery 15.





Coffee and Hot Chocolate from our Aroma Coffee


Some gifts from our Boho-Chic Hair Salon


Snippets of all the things at our Anita's


D O N U T S


Live music from Duane and Denny


And a book signing from Best Seller, Liz Flaherty, Debby Myers and her trilogy,
and your dusty donut guy and his two books.




4pm-7pm!
Stop in to say, Hi!

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Saturday, October 2, 2021

When I Was A Kid


When I was a kid, people used the n-word all the time. They also referred to women as broads and numerous worse and more degrading terms. They thought certain factions of society needed to know their places and stay in them. Quietly. 

Terms like "got herself pregnant," "he's just out for one thing," and "you know what they're like" were bandied about with no thought to them being a gender or cultural insult. 

People who didn't fit into the white, Christian mold were lumped into a category known as Other. They were welcome here in the melting pot, but only if they fit in and kept quiet. 

As a kid, I rolled my eyes because Catholics couldn't eat meat on Fridays.

As a kid, I was very uncomfortable in friends' evangelical churches. Methodists, you know, are quiet. 

As a kid, I didn't laugh at others because I'd been laughed at and I didn't like it. (I'm fairly certain this is a barefaced lie--I'm sure I did laugh at people even if I didn't like it happening to me. As I said, I was a kid.)

There were no black kids in my school. No Hispanics that I remember. At that time, there weren't even any Amish. We said the pledge of allegiance every morning, prayed before lunch. We didn't swear where people could hear us. We didn't use certain words at all. At least, a lot of us didn't. For what it's worth, this is kind of like me thinking I never laughed at people--probably a raging case of selective memory.

Even now, I've used the f-bomb fewer times in my entire life than I'll read or hear it in a single week.

But that's because I don't like the word. I don't like the word "quip," either, or "desire," so I don't use them. I flinch when I see them. If any of them crop up too often in a story, I won't finish the book--words I don't like tarnish the reading experience for me.

For me. 

Things are different now. We can blame whomever we like. I definitely have some on my list and I'm sure you do, too. We need to accept that they are different and work within the changes. Maybe we need to realize that what was good for us for so long wasn't for the greater good. 

I've worked on this column all week, and I still don't know what to do with it. Yesterday, I tossed the whole thing. Last night, I found it and brought it back. Because even now, when things are different, nothing is more important than communication. 

We need to talk to each other, don't we? Without casting stones. I can't make cruelty and untruth and outright meanness okay in my mind. I can't. I don't want to. 

So, to anyone I laughed at, for any time I didn't object when I heard the n-word used, for anyone's feelings I've hurt because I acted as if their opinions and life experiences weren't as important as mine, I am sorry. I was wrong. I hope you will forgive me.

I will still say the pledge, hand over the heart, and get a lump in my throat when the national anthem's played. I will still pray when and where I want. That's me. You do what matters to you. If you need to kneel, I'll help you up when it's over. If you don't want to pray, I'm sure you'll be still while I do. 

I'll still watch my language. I'll still flinch at words I don't like. If you think that's funny or stupid, I guess that's okay. I think it's stupid that you use those words, too, but that's not my business, is it?

My business is to be tolerant. To not judge. To be kind. To be kind. To be kind. 

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody. 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

At the end of the day...

I'm sorry-not sorry to repeat this yet again, but it's a favorite. And Tuesday would be my parents' anniversary. Maybe it's a favorite because it reminds me of not only the goods in a long relationship, but the bads as well--and that we can get...not over them, but through them. Thanks for reading this again. 

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.