Saturday, January 23, 2021

Applesauce Pie and Philodendrons by Liz Flaherty #WindowOverthe Sink

“I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate” – George Burns

Roberta Struck
Roberta Struck makes the best pies I've ever eaten. In non-pandemic times, when classes in creative arts are given at the fairgrounds, her pie-making class always fills up right away. When pies are discussed anywhere, all eyes turn to her in expectation, because we know whatever she says is going to be good. When our extension homemakers club has carry-in dinners, I look around furtively for Roberta's pies to make sure I get a piece before they're gone. 

She made an applesauce pie. It was, I swear, one of the best desserts I'd ever had. I can do this. The thought was in my head, feeling like it always looks in cartoons when someone gets a fabulous idea. I could buy the crust, of course, because...well, if I'm making the pie, you want the crust to be store-bought, but I could put together those other ingredients. I have them all. 

So I did. 

It was awful. Actually probably worse than awful. I couldn't eat it and even the cats gave me shriveling looks before walking away. (I made that up, by the way--I don't feed them sweet things.)

When I first decided I would write a book, sometime way back in the last century, I did what you have to do in order to complete a manuscript. I sat down and started to write. I wrote on bleachers, in the car, while my family watched TV, while I was at lunch at work. It was my heart in ink. I was actually going to BE the writer I always knew I was meant to be. 

The book didn't sell. Neither did the next one. Or maybe the next one--I don't really remember how many I wrote before the Kensington editor called me and said she'd buy Always Annie.

Since those first ones were written in the days of electric typewriters and, eventually, floppy discs, I don't have any of them anymore. What a loss--to exactly no one.

I once had orange hair for a while--no matter what color I tried to hide it with, the orange came back up like highlights on a chia pet. While I love to sew, I've made more than one project that never saw the light of day. I plant flowerbeds even fully knowing there's never been a flower or a plant yet that liked me. (My mother and mother-in-law insisted you couldn't kill philodendrons. Lynn, my sister-in-law, said you couldn't kill cacti. Sure you can.)

The road of my life, which is pleasingly long, is paved with loving people, getting to be a mom, a nana, half of an equation called marriage, and a writer. There are lots of friendships there, and hard divots where some of those relationships have been lost. Other losses are so intense they're speed bumps that go all the way across the road and are nearly impossible to cross. 

There are also a whole bunch of patches where the failures were. I suppose if I really gave them more time than it's taken me to write this column, I'd be cringing over them, but they were lessons. I sew better now. Write better. I don't bake better pies or grow better flowers, but I keep trying because it's fun. It makes me laugh. 

The only real failure, a lot of people have said, is in not trying. The rest of the oopses are just practice, and if you learn from them or get to laugh at them, the road is smoother and the ride sweeter for the effort. And there it is. The whole reason for writing about failure. And the reason for keeping on trying.

Have a good week. Fail at something. Be nice to somebody. 

~*~



Since I didn't talk to anyone before doing this, I don't have any statistics or interviews to go with it. However, this week's business is Hairtique & Fountain Blues, a hair salon at 24 South Broadway. Owned by Pam Poff, the five-station salon is also the work home of Denee, Cindy, Abby, and Megan. 

Prices are competitive and coffee and conversation are on the house. The shop is appointment-only during Covid, and masks are required. The phone number is (765) 473-6350. 



Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Pearls and Blue by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink

I don't usually blog on Wednesday, but today's a different Wednesday for many of us. It's a bright, hopeful day. I also try to mostly stay away from politics, whereas today I'm delving right in. The Window will be itself again Saturday, and I invite you back then if you'd rather give this one a skip. 



My daughter's a teacher. Sometimes we talk in the morning before school. This morning, Inauguration Day, she asked me if women could vote when my mother was born.

No, they couldn't.

By the time she reached majority, they could and she did, but it's still hard for me to grasp that I'm only one generation in my family away from being considered the lesser gender not only by way too many people but legally as well.

It has been an emotional week. I guess they're all emotional these days. The pandemic has taken its toll. The political divide has, too. 

For those of us with pearls at our necks and blue as our signature color, the past four years have been difficult. We struggled with an administration that a plurality of the voters did not want and could not respect. We saw name-calling become the American way of communication, demonizing those who disagree with you its national language, and a return to the if-you-don't-like-it-you-can-leave mentality of the Vietnam era. 

We saw "alternative facts" become acceptable. In the eyes and hearts of we pearl-clutchers in blue, we were no longer the good neighbors we'd taken such pride in being. 

It was an administration that left many Christians struggling because we knew, we knew this was not what Jesus would do. And yet so very many of us still know that it was.

I felt, for those four years, that here we were only one generation away from women getting the vote, and we were losing what got us there. Where was the empathy, the love and caring for others, the respect for each other's beliefs? 

Was it all one-sided? Oh, no. There were politicians, journalists, and clergy who all fed our fears--whichever fears those were. There were hate groups who hated for the sake of hating and liars who lied for the sake of lying. On both sides of the divide. 

But today was the inauguration of a new president and  vice-president. Many of us  are happy. Relieved. Delivered. There are also those who still believe 82 million of us cheated. Who believe the attack on the Capitol two weeks ago was just a small blip in the scheme of things, undoubtedly orchestrated by liberals. 

I'm sorry for that. Because we are all still Americans. I do not want them to feel, as those of us in blue have felt these past four years, as if it's not their country anymore. It still is, but they're going to have to make room. Just as 100 years ago, the men had to make room for the woman's vote. Her voice. 

Speaking for me, and I'm sure for some of the others in blue and pearls, this is my best day in a very long time. I hope the ensuing days are good for the red side, too.

Do I think we can all join together? No. Not for a while anyway. Too much hate and hurt have damaged the bridge to the point that repair will take a while. 

Until then, though... Hello. My name is Liz. I'm a good neighbor and I hope you are, too. Maybe we can work together. 

Have a good week. Be nice to somebody.


Saturday, January 16, 2021

In January by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink


Not that anyone asked me, but I don't like January very much. I always intend to, because I like the things it represents. Newness, beginnings, one month name closer to spring. The fact that it's not February is good, too, because I really don't like February. They are, for me, the long winter in its entirety.

However, the truth of the matter is that fun can be had at any time. There are nice things to look at, good places to walk, to stop for coffee or lunch, people to laugh with. There is snow coming down in cotton balls of beauty as I write this and even though I'm glad I don't have to drive it, I love to watch. 

I don't have a subject this week. I'm lonely for non-Covid times, for non-political times, for... I remember being fearless, don't you? Oh, not completely--I haven't known a day without fear since my firstborn was...first born--but I'm afraid of more things now than I've ever been. Ever. Not for me--I'm old--but mostly for my grands. I want the world to be wonderful for them, not violent and greedy and hate-filled. 

So it's January, which I still don't like very much, and I'm still trying to make my new plan for the year. That plan's going to be giving up the fear of violence. Of greed. Of hate. If someone feels compelled to call names or run in rings around the truth, I don't have to listen. That's the plan so far. I'll let you know how it goes. 

Now, for the commercial. I promise not to do this often, but for the day, please turn your attention to some local businesses...starting with mine. 

If you'd like an autographed copy of WINDOW OVER THE SINK... It's available on all the online stores, too, at Amazon and virtually everywhere else, although Amazon and I are the only places to get print copies.

I've loved writing the column all these years, and I loved putting this book together, too. I hope you'll order it, read it, and like it!
And then there's Joe DeRozier, the "dusty old baker" on Broadway. Get an autographed copy of his book, HECK, I DON'T KNOW...I JUST MAKE DONUTS by clicking on the link, or at Amazon. If you've read this essays on Facebook, you know he's a born storyteller.


Gallery 15 and Studios has undergone changes in this beginning of the year, but it is still a place of beautiful things with--I think--music in its future as well.


Anita's Boutique is so much fun and has so many choices.

There are other places, both local and regional, who could use your support. Your encouragement. Other writers, artists, and musicians who are struggling through this long winter in our lifetimes. I haven't even touched the tip of the iceberg. I hope you stop by. Wear your mask and laugh with people.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Keep on Walking by Samantha DeTurk Grudzien #WindowOvertheSink

I'm so happy to welcome Samantha DeTurk Grudzien to the Window today, and grateful to her for sharing her story.

Today is the one-year anniversary of a sober Sammy. It feels good. I feel strong. A part of me also thought I’d magically figure everything out when this day arrived (which is obviously not the case), so I also feel...fragile and scared and overwhelmed and like the real work is just beginning.

I started using pills and alcohol in a serious way at 13, not realizing how that choice would literally alter the way I interact with myself and the world for the next 25-plus years. It changed my brain chemistry and taught me to self-medicate as a way to cope and move through life, even as a way to succeed. After my mother was killed in a car accident three days after my twentieth birthday, the years I’d spent developing addictions only intensified. She was just a year older than I am now.

I never woke up in a ditch or lost a job due to my addictions (though I certainly came close more than I’d like to admit); in fact, the opposite is true. I am what people call a functioning addict, and am only just beginning to understand how that has stunted my emotional growth and ability to move forward in my life. The coping mechanisms I have are deeply intertwined with substance abuse, and learning to untangle all of that and relearn how to think and process emotions is exhausting and tedious, but necessary if I’m going to achieve the life I deserve to live. I’ve felt stuck for nearly 20 years. But I’m taking back my power, one day and one choice at a time.

I read recently that addiction and alcoholism are chronic diseases that require both short- and-long term treatment plans to actively combat. I’ve always had mixed feelings about them being referred to as diseases, but I do get it. My brain functions differently than it would have had I never been an alcoholic and addict, or compared to someone who is not. I will never be “cured,” but I can actively manage these conditions and continue to give my mind and body the opportunity to heal and function “normally” over time. Some damage cannot be reversed, but a lot more can and will as I stay diligent and committed to living my best life fully awake and in tune with myself. Even if it is hard and painful and scary at times, it’s better than living my life in a self-induced fog.

For me, active sobriety is different than being sober. I’ve been sober on and off a lot over the last 25 years, and during those periods of time I was able to heal my body enough to start the cycle all over again. I called this intermittent sobriety, but it was actually a part of my chronic relapse cycle and kept me in active addiction as much as anything. Perhaps I needed it to get me to this point. Choosing to commit to a fully sober life and actively work to heal my brain and cope with things I’ve routinely chosen to medicate is some of what I mean when I use the term “active sobriety.” I started 2020 sober (actually on January 4th--I was hung over on the 3rd) as I’ve done many times before, and somewhere around month three or four, I started to make the mindset shift towards an actively sober lifestyle. A few months into it, lightbulbs and aha moments began to emerge, along with hope. There is no endgame, only living each day untethered by the self-imposed limitations of this often deadly disease of the mind. I cling to hope, and know this is only the beginning for me.

There’s a country song I heard once that says, “if you’re going through hell, keep on walking,” or something like that, and at times that’s what my sober journey feels like. There is no destination, no finish line, and the reward is sometimes feeling worse before I feel better. I also know that after 25+ years of active addiction and alcoholism, one year sober means I’m still in early recovery. “Keep on walking, Sammy girl...”

I’m excited to build upon the work I’ve done and continue to learn new ways of thinking and coping and healing and living as I submerge more deeply into active recovery.

A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone that has supported me this past year. Yes, I make the choice to be sober, but without a community and a few key people cheering me on and believing in me (y’all know who you are 💜), I don' t know if I’d be where I’m at today. And all things considered, I’m in a much better place than I was a year ago and wouldn’t trade an ounce of pain for any amount of numb. So that’s success.

In 2019, my key phrase was, “progress not perfection,” and it helped me be nicer to myself (still working on this) and adopt a Whole Food Plant Based way of eating. In 2020, my key phrase was, “just keep swimming,” lol, and it helped me keep going, even if the only thing I accomplished was not drinking. For 2021, I think it is all about “try again,” for me. Though I am fully committed to continuing my sober journey and active recovery, there are a lot of other areas in which I feel like a failure. That thought pattern will not get me anywhere, so I will remind myself to just Try Again. Every day, Try Again. Keep fighting, forgive myself, and Try. Again.

If you need help, I’m here for you, just as so many are there for me. If you want to change your life, you have the power to do it! You need a plan (it doesn’t have to be anything crazy, but you wouldn’t start a diet or exercise program, or even a home improvement project without a little prep work, right?) and a few safe people to help you be strong when you feel weak. I don’t care how many times you’ve tried to get clean or sober in the past, all that matters is NOW. Try again! It’s never too late to live the life you want, the life you deserve. Help is out there, but it’s up to you to take the first step and each one after. No shame, no judgement, only a recovery plan, determination, and hope for a better more present life.

Happy New Year everyone! Thank you so much for the love and support you’ve shown me as I’ve shared some of myself with you this past year. You give me courage and strength that I hope one day I can pay forward. I wonder what 2021 has in store for us? We just survived possibly one of the most collectively difficult years we may see in our lifetime, so I say, bring it on yo!

Samantha DeTurk has rediscovered her love of writing as a means of self care and expression to survive the insanity of our shared human experience, and escape this locked down lifestyle to which we are all becoming accustomed. Sam graduated cum laude from BSU with a major in Theatre and a minor in Telecommunications, and spent her first 5 years post grad working in the radio industry before joining corporate America as a business consultant for a Fortune 300 HCM leader. When she’s not writing or preparing delicious WFPB cuisine, Sam loves singing, acting, spending time at the lake with her husband and ornery kitty Jasper, and (badly) learning to play her ukulele, The UkuBaby.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Reusing the Canvas by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink



I'm writing this on Friday, the first day of 2021. I am so excited for the New Year, even knowing hanging a new calendar in the laundry room doesn't really change anything. The pandemic is still here, politics are still ugly, and the truth seems to still be on holiday. 

It's an icy kind of day. We don't have to go anywhere, so we won't. Age has decreed that if there is more than a cupful of crushed ice on the back porch, I don't go outside. People don't retire because they can't work, I've come to realize, but because they fall down so easily. The things you learn if you live long enough!

I read a post on Facebook this morning where the writer said he hated social media. Although he was making a good point, I'm sure the irony didn't escape him that he was using a social media platform to decry its value. Many people moved their social media presence from Facebook to Parler, only to screenshot Parler messages and post them on Facebook. Hmm... 


A few days ago, on another blog, I wrote this: 

"Blank pages make me remember--and I know I'm dating myself here--new notebooks when I was a kid. Unopened packages of lined paper and crisp folders and Bic pens with clear barrels. I always got them for Christmas. If I ever wondered why I so often start new stories after the holidays, that memory is a reminder. All those blank pages and smooth ink and pocket folders that ended up containing so much of my heart."

That's how it is if you're a writer--what I wrote was no surprise to anyone who read the post. But it's how it is in other things, too. It's how you make the new plan I talked about last week. But, while it's great to be able to start with fresh paper, pens, and folders, it's not really necessary. I told artist Sarah Luginbill I was going to throw away my only wine and canvas attempt (I should have stuck with the wine and skipped the canvas) and Sarah said, "Oh, no, don't throw it away. You can still use it."

I haven't, but it was an important lesson, isn't it? Celebrating the arrival of 2021 isn't going to make 2020 go away, and we can't throw away its canvas and start over. We have do the best with what we have. We need to try to fix what's broken, not destroy it further. 

Facebook is still there, whether you hate it or not. Even if you moved your internet social life to another platform because you didn't like Facebook rules. The thing to do is use it where it adds to your life. To keep up with friends and family and grandkids in Jedi outfits. Scroll past what you don't like. If something is a lie or a threat or hate speech, by all means report it, then make sure what you post isn't a lie or a threat or hate speech. Kittens are good. 

Another way to start over without a blank page is by looking out for each other. Although I don't want to fall down--it hurts and I don't bounce well--it will likely happen. I like knowing if there is anyone near, they will help me up or call for help if it's necessary. It won't matter if they liked my Facebook posts or the fact that this column occasionally beats what seems to be a dead horse.  

I can't say I'm sure of where this post was supposed to go, but I don't think it got there. I appreciate your patience with sticking with it--and me. I'll try to do better next time, reusing the canvas...

Have a great week. Be careful on the ice. Be nice to somebody.