Saturday, July 31, 2021

This 'n' That by Liz Flaherty


Every now and then, the "blank page" is more than a challenge and an unrealized pleasure. It's kind of horrifying. The idea that I don't have anything to say (and I admit there are those who would be delighted by this) appalls me. As an identifier, I am "the one who writes."

And I'm afraid of losing that identifier, of becoming "the one who used to write." I don't want to "used to" anything, thank you very much. Other than some muscle- and joint-related things that just aren't happening anymore, I mean.

On the group writing blog I'm part of, we sometimes post about this-and-that, simply because we can't think of anything to say, so here we go. The Window's version of This 'n' That. Thank you for your patience. 

Our class party was last night. It was wonderful. The food was fabulous. In 1993, I wrote "...although not all classmates love each other, either in school or 25 years later, there is still a sense of togetherness developed by memories shared that makes us see each other in a kind light. We delight in each other's glories and mourn each other's losses."

We still do. It was wonderful to see you.
Photo by Becky Shambarger



Thinking of the party and of watching Two-Thirds-of-Three-Old-Guys play music at the Black Dog later last night made me think of the word gathering. It's a favorite, one of those that gives joy and promotes memory. In the field west of the house, round bales clustered for a picture this week. If I were a good enough photographer to name my snapshots, I'd call it "The Gathering." What do you think?

The Gathering


I remember when bales were all the little rectangular ones that came apart in sweet-smelling flakes for cows to munch on. (I call them "little," but those suckers were heavy.) Bales of straw rowed on wagon beds for hayrides. What goes on the wagons now?

I love woodpeckers. 

Can you believe kids are going back to school already? I know vacations are different and that there are longer ones during the school year, but I'd rather have August be part of summer. Of course, no one asked me...

At the party last night, I ate a piece of Merry Gaerte's butterscotch pie. I now know what heaven is like. I weighed a pound more this morning, but I'm not blaming her. Nope, not me. 

I sold a book to The Wild Rose Press this week. Its (working) title is Life's Too Short for White Walls. I really love the title. Because, you know, like Gran says in the book, "The only good place for white walls is on a '57 Chevy."

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody. 







Saturday, July 24, 2021

Where Everybody Knows Your Name by Liz Flaherty


I like buying local, don't you? And my memories of what "local" was like when I was young are just like everyone else's from my generation. That is to say, probably viewed through rose-colored lenses. 

I used to buy gas from Ronnie Martin in Akron. I'd stop and get a few dollars worth on my way to work in North Manchester. I'd write a check and ask him to hold it till Friday so that it wouldn't be...rubbery. He sold Christmas trees my son's first Christmas. I just wanted a little one for a little boy, and Ronnie charged me a dollar. 

One time, before the days of sliding a credit card through a slot in a gas pump, I pumped some gas at Beecher's in Denver. Then I went over a block to Hagan's to buy some groceries. The guy who was working at the station called Hagan's and asked Bonnie, the cashier, to send me back to the station so I could pay for the gas I'd just absconded with. I stuck my hand in my pocket and there was the money. I took it right over. 


Embarrassment seemed to happen at Hagan's. (I blame Steve Hagan for this, because he's not here to defend himself--he's still working behind the meat counter at the grocery in Denver.) There was the day I bought a cartload of groceries, but when I opened my checkbook, there were no checks--not even the bouncy kind. I'm not sure what I said, but Jeff Hagan yelled to the back to his dad, "Hey, Liz doesn't have any checks. What should we do?" knowing full well Elmer was going to wave me off and have me come back the next day. He did and I did, and it's probably been 40 years and I think my face is red again as I'm writing this. 

A few times, while I worked at the post office in Logansport, I got to spend a few months working at the Macy office instead. Where people brought me stuff to eat and stood at the counter and talked, sometimes playing the "remember when" game that, as you know, is one of my favorites. 

Some places have retained the feel of "remember when." I'm sure Joe DeRozier has the only bakery around where you go in the back door and talk books and not-politics with the owner when you pick up your donuts. There are restaurants and coffee shops and bars where "everybody knows your name," and let's be honest here--we like that. We like it a lot. As much as good and fast service, we like it to be friendly and familiar. 

That happens a lot around here, and it's one of those things in the top ten on my gratitude list. (Which keeps growing, by the way--another gratitude!)

But what about when you don't get good service at a local business? When you've paid cash for an item and six weeks later you still don't have it--only promises anchored by "just waiting for a part"?

That's an easy answer when it's a big-box store; they can afford to lose my business and my good will. It hasn't happened often, but it has happened. I imagine big-chain percentages are pretty good as far as customer satisfaction, so I don't feel bad when I ask for my money back and give them a poor review for whatever standard they haven't reached.

That doesn't answer my question, though. Had we talked to enough people before we bought the item I'm talking about above, we wouldn't have gone there. Wouldn't have made a special trip to the bank to get money out because the shop owner wasn't "doing cards right now." I know that our experience isn't special--a lot of customers are having or have had the same one. 

So here's my question--well, my several questions. What do we do now? Do we ask for our money back? Do we have faith "the part" will eventually arrive? Do we mention the name of the business even knowing we might be doing some damage to it? I want to shop local, I want to be loyal to community businesses (especially since most of them are so great and we're lucky to have them), but where does loyalty cross the line into just being cheated? 

The business has a long and excellent history in the community--but history doesn't deliver service, does it?

Have a good week. Be nice to somebody. If you can, buy local. 



Saturday, July 17, 2021

Stronger than we seem... by Liz Flaherty


Sometimes awful things happen. They happen to good people, to bad people, to people we've never met, and to people we love. When these things riddle the lives of others, we are sorry for them. We pray for happy endings, for release from pain, for peace. Oh, yes, please, peace. 

And sometimes awful things are said, like He got what he deserved. Or My kid (husband, wife, sister, brother) would never do anything like that. Or I wouldn't have put up with that. I'd have... Or I always knew that would happen.

Why are those things awful? Because they don't help anybody, that's why.

I mean that, what I just said there. However, it would probably be more convincing if I'd never been guilty of saying those things. If I'd never been smug about anything. 

My prayers, while no more heartfelt, might be kinder if I were never righteous when I offered them. I wonder how many times I've said I would pray for someone or their situation and then forgotten to do it. Or how many times I've pontificated on the importance of forgiveness but locked a grudge up so tightly that it can't possibly break free. 

But...

"Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages..."

Borrowed with thanks from https://www.facebook.com/perucircus/photos/

The circus starts today. Well, performances and the festival do. The months of preparation and labor started long before this. The fair was a few weeks ago, and other county fairs are sprinkling the state every week. These are things that involve kids--hundreds of them--and adults who help and encourage them. 

I have felt awfulness this week, but on Broadway in Peru, in fairgrounds exhibit halls, hope grows with all the beauty of community. Round bales and deer create still life tableaus in fields. Ice cream socials offer fellowship and friendship. There is music and art and pleasure to be heard and seen and felt.

So maybe prayers are answered--we just don't know how to listen or how to understand what the solutions are. I'm grateful for those answers among the awfulness. They make us strong, make us laugh, make us empathize and sympathize instead of saying awful things.  

Have a great week. Find hope in the detritus. Be nice to somebody. May all your days be circus days. 

Painting by Sarah Luginbill




Friday, July 9, 2021

Ice Cream Social

I don't have a post today because I will be here at Ebenezer helping to prepare for and serve the ice cream social. Except for last year, it is an annual event. We are at the corner of Meridian Road and 1100 North. The ice cream, sandwiches, pie, and fellowship are all excellent! Free-will donation. Bake sale on the premises. 


Saturday, July 3, 2021

"Dreamin' in red white and blue..." by Liz Flaherty


Tomorrow is July 4, the day our country traditionally celebrates its independence from tyranny, a freedom cemented by the Declaration of Independence. Arguably the most famous quotation from that document is, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We assumed, back in the last century when we learned about it, that "all men" actually meant "all humankind." We assumed that the people who owned slaves and took life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness from Native Americans weren't really tyrants, were they? We assumed that the religious freedom they fled England to attain meant freedom for everyone's religion, not just certain ones. We assumed Life and Liberty were for everyone, not just people who looked and sounded like us. We assumed no one would pursue their Happiness at the expense of others. 

There is much to be learned about assuming, isn't there?


I remember--here we go with the memories again--when fireworks were fun and as far as I knew, no one got mad about people setting them off. Of course, I also remember when no one set them off until July 1st or so. 

I remember having confidence that everyone's vote counted the same and that no one would ever try to stop anyone else from voting. That no one would ever cheat in elections even if they could. That was what some of those Amendments were about, right, protecting that vote? Not just your vote or the guy's who lives on a certain side of town, but mine, too, and my neighbor's and the one of the person who lives over there that no one really likes. 

I remember the lyrics of the song "Only in America," both the one by Jay and the Americans and the one by Brooks and Dunn, that said we were all equal. We could all be anything. Do anything. 

I love the flag. I will always stand for the national anthem. I will always recite the Pledge of Allegiance, complete with "under God." I'm pretty traditional in that way. I don't particularly like it when others are not, but it's not my business. My family has several veterans--none of whom have served so that all Americans would march to the same drum; they've served so all Americans could choose their own drums.


We see a lot of "if you hate this country, you should leave" these days, just as we saw it back in the Vietnam era. Why is it that disagreeing with the status quo is considered synonymous with hate? Was this what was intended that day they all signed that document? 

Anyway, Happy 4th of July. I hope you enjoy the day and the year and I hope you love the country it celebrates. You don't have to love it the same way I do--that's what the independence means, I think.

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody. 


 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Book Signing...



Posting a few days early this week to invite you to join me at a book-signing on Saturday, June 26. You don't have to buy a book, but stop in and shop and have some coffee and conversation anyway! Hope to see you there!

From Legacy Outfitters and Black Dog Coffee at 116 S 6th St, Logansport, IN.

"We're so exited about our upcoming Book Signing and talk by author Liz Flaherty next Saturday, June 26th from 11am to 2pm. Liz is one of our favorite customers and her 'Window on the Sink' columns in the Peru Tribune are now in book form.

Romance readers know her as the author of over 20 novels published by Harlequin, Kensington, Carina Press, and The Wild Rose Press. Her work has also been in The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, and the Christian Science Monitor. But it's her Window on the Sink essays she's most happiest writing. Each essay is a personal, thoughtful slice of life, recalling moments spent in the small town of Macy where she and her husband, musician, Duane, live and raised their kids. As one reviewer says, 'Family comes alive in this book and you'll laugh and cry and feel good all over.' Copies of her book are available now and at the signing."
***
Thanks to everyone who came. I was so glad to meet no-longer-strangers and to see friends whose presence light my days. 







Thursday, June 17, 2021

Remember When by Liz Flaherty

I'm writing this at a glass-topped table that seats 10 easily and more if TV watchers drag up chairs to join the conversation. The kitchen has room for several to work at once, a curiously small refrigerator, and a dishwasher we keep running constantly. There are anywhere between 10 and 14 of us here on the beach in North Carolina. 


Other than the husbands and wives among us, and the two who are in middle school and high school who still live at home, none of us would willingly live together. The personalities and opinions that surround this table and fill the house-crossing deck in the back are varied and...varied. They don't always mesh. Sometimes we clamp our mouths shout. Sometimes we should but don't.

But our six kids, half by birth and half by law and all by heart, in all their differences, love each other's children. On this trip, Uncle Chris has been 11-year-old Eamon's favorite plaything and Skyler and Fionn have done their best to shock Aunt Tahne. All "us girls" have personalized wineglasses and ankle bracelets that will serve as remember whens for as long as we have them. 

The kids love us and worry about us as we age. Whenever any two of them are gathered in quiet conversation, we ask if they are discussing putting us in "the home." Usually they assure me I'm okay, but Dad may have something to worry about. Or vice versa. 

The grandkids are fascinating and funny. They know so many different things and their personalities and interests are as varied and entertaining as their parents'. 

Like most other families, we spend a lot of time in front of screens. We all have phones, several of us work from wherever our laptops are, and there are televisions and games systems everywhere. Fourteen of us wear approximately 55 pairs of shoes, 33 hats, and 29 pairs of sunglasses (none of which can be found when needed.) Between us, we have at least 20 bottles of sunscreen but can never find the one we want. We have beach towels that are used for nothing more heroic than collecting sand but are very pretty and bright nonetheless.

We've said and done things that are inherent to us. One son slept "44 hours straight" according to his brother. In one day! (Not sure who said that...) Decades after our daughter declared the "tiny belt" on her car needed replacing, it is still the family go-to description of any automotive problem up to and including transmission replacement and blown engines. When my granddaughter and I walked the beach in swimsuits of matching colors, I mourned that no one thought we were sisters. They are not brilliant things, these things we still laugh at, but they are still ones we cherish. 


It is special this week coming up on Father's Day to realize that my favorite four fathers are here in one place. They are being reminded of their failures, whether real or imagined, and their successes are right here for us all to see. 

We are diverse in our religion, music, food and beverage choices, and--somewhat--in our politics, but share values complete with lines that cannot be crossed. Except that we cross them all the time. Voices are raised, much eyerolling goes on, and sometimes quiet falls between parties. That kind of quiet is heartbreaking at the age I am, because I know no matter how much time you have to spend with your family, it's never, ever enough. 

I'm writing this on Thursday, staying inside because no matter how much of those 20 bottles of sunscreen I used, it wasn't enough. We'll head back in a few days, to several parts of the country, using various modes of travel. We'll all be glad to be home, back to routine, to our own beds. We'll all have different remember whens, but no matter how individualized they are, every one of us will have them with us always, in one of those pockets in our hearts that we can open when we need to. 

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.


Saturday, June 12, 2021

What's Going On? by Liz Flaherty

I am on vacation this week, and it looks as if I might be missing a lot of things going on in Miami County!


#ColePorterFestival is this week. Go here for a schedule of events. http://www.coleporterfestival.org/schedule/

It's #SecondSaturday. A lot will be going on, including music at Gallery 15. 


It's time for Gilead Garage Sales. Pick up your map early!


Farmer's Market--with great vendors and more music!

Feel free to add more activities in the comments. Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Glory Days by Liz Flaherty

In church a few Sundays ago, Pastor Scott Mann said something that I want to remember. He said, "I can't believe in the salvation of anyone who doesn't long for the salvation of his neighbor. Be the church." 

He also reminded us later in the service that "the glory days are in the future," which--for me--meant the past is behind us. (As someone who is notoriously reluctant to let things go, this had a really big couple of meanings...)

Also on that bright and beautiful Sunday morning, a cluster of us arrived at the church at once, greeting each other and walking up its steps together. I was reminded of when I was a kid, walking into a different church with mostly different people, but with the same feeling. When I tried to explain it, Chris McGuire said, "Oh, happy day." And yes, that was it. 

I wrote those things because I want to remember what gifts they were. Memory gets sketchy with age. It's selective and faulty, but no less precious for all that. 

Change and loss become such parts of every day that we expect them. Even in expectation, we are blindsided by them. Loss still hurts and change is still bewildering. We learn to not miss chances and to not say "one of these days, I'll..." Not that we always act on what we've learned, but we know. We know.

We also know that into those changes and losses come the letting go part. Some friendships end--even old ones. Some lifetime scars are bumpier and harder to live with and open and bleed no matter how hard we try to let things go. 

We need to forgive ourselves. 

There are no words to describe how much I dislike dreary days or relentless wind. Both of those elemental events cause me to hunker down and pout, but into those gloomiest of days, the orioles, goldfinches, blue jays, and woodpeckers have flown in all their brilliant glory. Walking the Nickel Plate has become anticipatory because the colors and scents are different every day. More change. More loss.

This week has been a cacophony of change and loss and the delight of grandkids in the house. At the end of it, the sun is still shining, the birds are still singing and hanging upside down from the suet feeders--how do they do that?--and we still have the opportunity to "be the church" and to let things go when the keeping of them doesn't help anyone.

I realize the Window doesn't all come together this week. There's nothing new in that, I guess, although I wish I were a little better at wrapping things up neatly. But most things aren't like that, are they? Not that we can't wrap them up and be happy with them, but it's not usually all that neat. I think that idea's one of the things I'll try to let go.

Have a great week. Forgive yourself. Be nice to somebody. 


Saturday, May 29, 2021

Words and Adventures and 50 Years by Liz Flaherty

We talked at this week's writers' meeting about our voices and what we write about. I admitted that I write about aging...well, all the time. I feel kind of apologetic about it, but not really. My intent has always been to write about life's adventures from the cornfields and these days that inexorably flying  calendar has much to do with those adventures. 

I love words. No secret there. If I were a writer and I didn't love words, that might be a problem, but that's not an issue with me. My friend Nan Reinhardt collects words and writes them down. I, on the other hand, collect them, forget them, and discover them again another day. I would say that I do this on purpose, but that would be an outright prevarication. Well, yes, a lie, but we're talking words here.

Different words have importance at different times. One of my current favorites is slippery. And no, it's not really a favorite, but it's one that...well...slips into every day in one form or another.

Sometimes, instead of slippery, the word colors outside its lines and becomes trippery, because there you have the biggest single health fear I have. I tend to not watch where I'm going and I tend to not pick up my feet (they're heavy!) which means I fall more often than I'd like.

When this happens, I take a furtive look around to see if anyone has seen me skid across whatever treacherous surface I'm scaling. I wait until dizziness subsides and get to my feet using whatever methods necessary. And I am both grateful and...yeah, I'll admit it...scared, because I'm so worried about damaging a brain that's already being compromised by that damn calendar I mentioned. Becoming the subject matter in a family intervention is something I'd rather avoid. 

Also slippery are the memories of what happened yesterday. Yes, I know we talked about it, but then there was a squirrel or something and it's just gone. I do, however, remember the day my 47-year-old son went to kindergarten orientation. He had on this little denim jacket...

I've loved every age I've been in my adult life, some more than others, and this year when I am 70--which makes this my eighth decade, something I'm not thrilled about putting into print--is no exception to that. Because no matter how scary and frustrating the aging process is, it is also endlessly fascinating. There is no possible chance for boredom, because life changes virtually every day. Even if it really doesn't, there's the memory thing, so...yeah, every day.

As your vision dims and clouds, it also values everything it sees, because you've gained a real appreciation for the word finite. 

Listening becomes not only important but a necessity. Not only because you might miss something, which you most certainly will, but because hearing gets compromised. Even if you hear well, it is often situational. As in, your husband can't hear you if you're on the couch beside him, but will talk to you from two rooms away and be offended because you can't hear him over the sound of water filling the washer right in front of you.

I keep italicizing words because...you know...words. They have so many meanings and places at different times in our lives. There are also some, and combinations of some, that I don't like. 

Like the term "little old lady." It may be accurate, but it's not your place to call me one. 


Like "no filters." I use this one myself, and it, too, is accurate. However, quite often, what it really means is rude. It's occasionally used interchangeably with entitled. This is not who I want to be. Even as a little old lady.

Like "kids today." Kids today are great, just like they were in every decade before this one. Their parents have made mistakes, and the only reason we complain about them is that they're different mistakes than the ones we made.

Like...oh, good grief, I think maybe staying past your welcome should be included here. I've gone on a little longer than I should have. But this has been fun for me to write. That's another word about aging, by the way: fun. It really is. 


Fifty years ago today, Duane and I went to a church in Denver with our friends Mike and Nancy and Rev. George Hapner and promised each other forever. It has been a long adventure. We have learned that sometimes a long marriage is held together by scar tissue and the emotional superglue used when we've broken pieces off each other's hearts, but that together is the operative word. We're going--he says--for another 50. Okay by me. I love you more, Duane. Love, by the way, is another favorite word.

Have a great week. Make life an adventure. Be nice to somebody. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Go with All Your Heart by Scott Johnson

Scott Johnson wrote this eight years ago, when he retired from teaching. He's never really retired, you understand--people still learn from him all the time. A lot of teachers are like that, aren't they? They just kind of walk around with an invisible classroom. He said I could use this, so here it is, the Window's almost-annual gift to graduates, compliments of Scott Johnson, owner of Black Dog Coffee and renaissance man extraordinaire. Congratulations, Class of 2021. We are so proud of you. Go forth and be smart and funny and all the other things your parents and grandparents have always known you were. 


I have been sitting here in front of this blank screen for quite a while now. It's a nice evening so I don't really mind, but I have been trying to find some way of telling you all just what I have learned about life since my career began. I thought I would be able to sum it all up in one grand and deep sentence but my mind is clouded with memories and so I can't really see that clearly now.  

There are lots of little lessons that I would like to share and you can choose to think about them if you wish but I have long ago given up the idea that I could influence people to do what they really don't want to do. Ignore all this nonsense if you want to.

I learned that with us humans, we have to strive to give another person what they need rather than simply giving to them what we want them to need.

I learned that most of the time when fights and arguments happen, they have very little to do with what injury someone else has done to us, but rather what injury our own self esteem has done to us.

I learned that at one time or another, everyone needs to be told that everything is going to be ok.

I learned that we have to do what makes us happy and be who makes us happy because human nature cannot be fooled.

I learned that being kind to others without expecting anything in return is the best way to make ourselves complete.

I learned that some rules must to be broken but others should never be.

I learned that imagination is the most important thing to be nurtured.

I learned that reading and thinking are skills and like any skills, need to be practiced.

I learned that taking on challenges that other people provide but never challenging yourself has no worth.

I learned that we all have the power to make those around us feel good about who they are and this is the most powerful thing in the world. This power should never be withheld and the opposite of this...making those around us feel bad about who they are...should never be used.

I learned that when you have to correct a person, always let them save face by laughing with them immediately after.

I learned that karma is a real thing.  

I could probably write down lots more of these little lessons but these will do for now. When I look over this list, I find there I have failed to quote one single educational standard that might appear on a standardized test sometime. I guess this is why it is time for me to go.

I am going to borrow a line from a song that I heard today to finish this off.

Never give up

Never slow down

Never grow old

Never ever die young. 

Thank you all for everything you have done. I am sorry for many things. I will miss you and I will always be there to tell you...everything is going to be ok. -  Johnson


Have a great week. Hold someone tight. Be nice to somebody.



Saturday, May 15, 2021

Garage sale... by Liz Flaherty

I'm sorry not to have a post today. I sort of ran out of time. If you're not busy or if you want to find some good sales and good food, go on out to the fairgrounds for Miami County Extension Homemakers' Annual Garage Sale. See you there!


The Miami County Extension Homemakers will be hosting an Inside Community Garage Sale at the Miami County Fairgrounds on Saturday, May 15, 2021. This sale will be held in the Project Building at 1029 North 200 West, Peru and will run from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.   Over 40 different Vendors and Participants will be offering their wares for sale with a wide variety of clothing, crafts, jewelry, household and miscellaneous items available.

In addition to the booths, the Garden Gate Café will be offering many delicious breakfast, snack and lunch items on site.  Items on the menu are their homemade cinnamon rolls, donuts, pretzels, cookies and mocha brownies.  They will also have biscuits & gravy and an egg brunch for breakfast.  Lunch entrees will be chicken salad wraps, turkey and bacon wraps, barbeque sandwiches, sloppy joes and pigs in a blanket all served with chips.  Coffee, bottled water, canned pop and lemon shake-ups will be served to quench your thirst.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Best Job by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink


Tomorrow is Mother's Day. I've had a lot of them. 

I've been blessed in the realm of motherhood. By my own mother, mother-in-law, and stepmother-in-law, all of whom taught me more than I can begin to either relate or remember. All of whom I laughed with, cried with, and got mad at. All of whose places in my life are held by them alone. I still miss all of them, each for varying and yet the same reasons. And I'm grateful.

I'm blessed by our kids. I got to be a mother because of them. I got to make every single mistake that presented itself to me as they grew up, and they grew up in spite of them. Or maybe because of them. They knew to think hard before they quoted me because chances were good I was wrong. They knew to never say the words "like my mom always did" because...well, Mom always had a good time, but it was messy.

But they know, please God, that I love them more than my life. Despite my favorite Mother's Day story to tell--the one about when their Aunt Debbie and I were talking about motherhood (she was a great one) and she said it was the only job she ever had that she never wanted to quit. And I realized...and admitted...sigh...that I wanted to quit it virtually every day of my life. 

But...but...it's the best job, isn't it? 

Uh-huh. Sure is. Didn't last long enough, either. Go figure.


Then there are my other kids, the ones who married mine even after I threatened to make them sign a promissory document that there would be no givebacks. Their parents made different mistakes than Duane and I did, and oh, my gosh, they did a wonderful job. And there you go, I got three more people to love more than my life and that was all I had to do; no labor or laundry involved. Being a mother-in-law is also the best job in the world. All my kids-in-law really had to do was love the ones they married to make me happy, but they do--and are--so much more than that. And I'm grateful.

The best gift by far of motherhood is, of course, grandmotherhood, because it is an experience that defies description. My grandkids are the actual Magnificent Seven, but as Sarah Hudson said one day, "You may think your grandkids are cute, but..." when she was telling me about her first one. She was so right, because when someone in creation times murmured the word, "Perfect," God snapped His fingers and said, "Right! Grandkids!" They're all Magnificent. 


I asked Mom once why she never told me that when I had children, I was doomed to being afraid something would happen to them every single day for the rest of my life. She told me she was afraid she'd scare me off motherhood. She had a point--the depth of that fear is something else that no one has come up with a Big Enough description for.

The depth of the love is the same way. And I'm grateful. Happy Mother's Day to everyone who's ever cared that much for a child. 

Have a great week. Give someone a present. Be nice to somebody. 



Saturday, May 1, 2021

Transition by Joe Scheidler #WindowOvertheSink

My friend Joe Scheidler is back with us today. This essay is from early March and, as always, Joe wrote what my heart felt. 

We are in the transition of winter to spring, the time when our acclimation to cold is quickly undone and we’re less comfortable with a north wind and 40 degrees than we were at 10. There’s a lot going on. Sandhill cranes are winging northward, redwing blackbirds are singing, daffodils are breaking ground, sap is running, geese are bickering over prime real estate. The list is long and timeless, understood yet filled with mystery. 

It’s a fickle time of year for weather. Warm and cold air masses combine to spawn storms, some severe. Too much warm too soon pushes buds to break then the frost returns and a season’s fruit is lost and sadness settles on the orchardist. All this is complicated by a climate that has changed so normals are no longer, predictions are often “unprecedented”, and weather events are breaking long established records. 

Our old dog, from all indications, is unconcerned. As long as the weather is not brutally hot her contentment is certain and predictable. Early spring, late frost, weather weirdness, all are meaningless as she is singularly focused on loyalty, friendship, and squirrel patrol, and from these she does not venture. It appears she lives solely in the moment and lacks the capacity to consider or recognize changes or threats that are forthcoming. There is one exception, that being when we are about to leave without her, and she’s melting into the floor even before we’ve made the announcement. 



I suppose wild species are similar. Some have the foresight to cache food for hard times ahead but most subscribe to a carpe diem philosophy. Adapt or die is their motto, which they follow without plan or fret. They are totally innocent as we cripple or destroy the environments we share with them, yet hold no recognizable ill towards us, even as some are facing certain extinction or dramatic population declines due to our actions. They are, in a sense, old dogs: highly responsive to our activities and in simple need of recognition, appreciation and respect. 


In the absence of humans, wild species would be just fine, but our influence on global ecology is complete so no place or living thing has gone untouched. It’s a relatively new development in human history, with the greatest impact occurring in just the past couple hundred years. The future of almost everything alive rests on us. We don’t turn on our phones, switch on a light, or hop in a car without an impact that ripples across the planet. Dominion, it appears, we can claim. 

The old dog feels frisky after her morning breakfast and bounces her front paws on the floor and stands with ears perked, looking expectant. She clearly has a message but I’m clueless and in need of coffee, a brew made from a bean likely raised in South or Central America where lush forests once stood and migrant birds once wintered; a bean that was processed and shipped, accruing a handsome carbon footprint, so I could grind and prepare it in my kitchen using appliances and gadgetry that were produced from mined metals that were smelted then poured into molds or stamped into products deemed essential for comfort in modern society and demanded by hundreds of millions of anxious consumers. And in the process of getting my beans countless people profited and they, too, wanted to buy more stuff, so to satisfy this new demand more mines were opened and the whole industrial complex was given a boost. The stock market reacted favorably and the money poured disproportionately to those already holding the greatest wealth and a beautifully capable planet became slightly less capable all because I felt a need for a cup of coffee. 

I recently read about a new lithium mine scheduled to open in the great state of Nevada. The mine, located at Thacker Pass, is promised to be a mile long and two miles wide and produce 179 million tons of lithium to help satisfy the world’s growing desire for electric cars and green energy storage. The mine will bring jobs and a valuable source of lithium from within our own borders. It will also wreak environmental disaster on a remote area of Humboldt County which, oddly enough, is named for one of the world’s most influential naturalists. One article I read states that electric cars are not the solution and cars of any sort are not the solution and we should go back to walking like humans have for 99.9 percent of our time on earth. And that made me think of an interview I heard on NPR with a man who had lost his job and car due to the pandemic and was forced to turn down a new job because he had no way to get to it. And I thought of my old roommate who has been diagnosed with ALS, and in a recent video, there he was taking a test drive in an electric wheelchair which was no doubt powered by a lithium battery. He was grinning from ear to ear. 

We’re in a seasonal transition, looking forward to the end of a pandemic, waiting to see how the world reacts, setting our hopes on something that is new and just while holding the promise of prosperity. A magnificent blue globe spins in her orbit around the sun. She gives us free reign to all she has, not contesting our decisions but reacting to them. She supports every living thing, and like an old dog looking to her master, is asking for respect and appreciation. No one said it’d be easy.

Visit Joe at Springcreekland, his blog. He and Lee live near Logansport and are an integral part of Black Dog Writers, our extraordinary writers' group. 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Feeling Good by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink


April, 2021: I found this. I don't know when I wrote it or if I've ever used it before. I'm sorry if it offends anyone or is a trigger for anyone. I'm sorry if it's something you can't relate to, but, truthfully, I thought body image in one way or another was an issue for nearly everyone. 

I'm on the low side of my weight merry-go-round right now. Not slim, and only a can of Pringles away from hitting the "obese" mark on the BMI, but I feel good.  

My friend Nan and I were talking about weight the other day. Actually, she was probably talking about it and I was obsessing about it. Which I’ve been doing since I was in the seventh grade and was consistently bigger than Linda, who lived down the road. I’m fairly certain I still am.

I have lost the equivalent of several versions of myself over the years. Fifteen pounds for class reunion, 25 for our daughter’s wedding, an enthralling 40-some the year I retired. A couple of years in the 80s, I lost weight to wear a two-piece swim suit in Florida; once it was to wear my favorite-ever black-and-white polka-dotted dress to our younger son’s graduation.

I’ve gained it back. Usually plus some. Every time. I do not, as my friend suggested, accept myself as I am. But I also do not eat sensibly or exercise enough. I don’t tell the truth about my weight on my driver’s license and I cringe at every doctor’s visit because there’s always that stop in the hallway between the waiting room and the examination room.

I do, in all honesty, hate being the size I am. I want to be the size I was when I first thought I was overweight. I also want to be able to eat a whole can of Pringles on a daily basis. Those things, as you can imagine, don’t go together. I can win against the Pringles by not buying them—but that doesn’t fix the fact that I’ve never met a carb I don’t like.

There are terms that go along with being heavy. Some of them are just what they are: overweight, heavy, obese, fat. Some are silly euphemisms: chubby, jolly, round. A few are kind: curvy, voluptuous, big-boned. Then there are the others, when someone says, “she has such a pretty face,” or “she let herself go,” or the even crueler “tub of lard.”

Then there is the issue of clothes. Like any other big girl, I’d like for my clothes to make me look like the size six I’m not. This isn’t going to happen, especially when people who create catalogs, commercials, and magazine advertising persist in having size zero models wearing plus-size clothing. Kudos to the retailers who have gone to the dark side and given us glimpses of fashion realism.

I blame no one for the extra pounds I carry on my woefully small bones; I have earned every ounce of them myself. Hopefully some of them will go away on my next foray into eating right and I will weigh less and feel better and never gain it back. I wish this not only for myself but for everyone else who has a daily struggle with poor self-image. If you can’t gain weight, I hope a few pounds (preferably mine) come your way. If you have terrible hair, I hope you find the right cut or color or whatever it takes.

But, on the days when you really can’t make peace with how you look, it’s much more important to remember that your weight and whatever other physical things about yourself like are not who you are. Acceptance is hard to come by when it comes to appearance, but that doesn’t mean you can’t like yourself. You can still laugh hard, love much, and make every day a good one.

April, 2021: I hope you "feel good," like I said in the first paragraph, and that you've found your own path to it. Sometimes it's a good idea to skip dinner and have dessert.  

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.


Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Right Thing to Do by Liz Flaherty


I wrote this in February of 2011. Nothing has changed.


"I wouldn't give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn't have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little looking out for the other fella, too." - Jimmy Stewart as Jefferson Smith in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington


I visited the U. S. Senate in 1965 on a trip to Washington, D. C. with a friend and her family, sitting my five minutes in the visitors’ gallery at the top. I was so enthralled by seeing Everett Dirksen and Ted Kennedy in person that the tour guide had to tell me twice to “come along.” Dirksen was talking in that gravelly voice of his. I have no idea what the discussion was about, only that everyone listened.

Tonight, I watched (and listened to—I’m patently unable to sit still for over two hours) Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. This movie, with Jimmy Stewart and Harry Carey at their best and Jean Arthur at her most appealing, was released in 1939. On the off chance that you haven’t seen it, it’s about a naive scoutmaster who is appointed to fill a vacancy in the Senate. He runs smack-dab into political corruption, but he doesn't back down; instead, the movie climaxes in a filibuster on the Senate floor. Jefferson Smith, played by Stewart, talks for hours, losing his voice and coming to a black moment over a pile of letters on a table that clogs my throat up even after seeing it at least a dozen times.

I didn’t see the movie till long after my visit when I was 15, but I remember thinking something like that really could happen, because I’d been to that big room and seen for myself how people behaved there. I thought the mere presence of the place would cause corrupt politicians to slink away and—if we were lucky—shoot themselves as Claude Rains attempted to do in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I thought surely most of the senators in that place, and their ideological brethren in the House of Representatives, were like Jefferson Smith, there to represent the people in their districts in support of the country they loved.

Memory—the older you get, the more convenient it gets—convinces me I was right about that. It did really used to be that way. But it’s not anymore. Because now they seem to be there to cater to lobbyists, to rip each other to shreds, to try to push forward their own agendas while decrying everyone else’s in wounded and righteous rhetoric.

Make no mistake about me and my rose-tinted look into the past. I like having computers, that my wages were never gender-based, that medicine has made such huge strides in healing and quality of life, and many, many more things about today’s world. I’d be lost without cruise control, electric windows, and even television. But sometimes, in some ways, I’d like to go back.

To manners and respect and feeling safe. To dressing for comfort and average being fine and dandy and majority rules. For standing up, as Jefferson Smith did, just because it’s the right thing to do.

And I want congress to go back, too.


Saturday, April 10, 2021

Magic and the Lucky Ones by Liz Flaherty

...the magic's in the music and the music's in me...

I was one of the lucky ones. 

In the 1960s, there was a group called the Lovin' Spoonful. Some of them are still around, still singing--I think they even use the group name...but in the 60s, when they recorded and performed a string of hits that most of my generation can still sing along with, they were...well, magic. Their first hit was "Do You Believe in Magic?" and I think it planted a seed that has grown, so that those of us who were "the lucky ones" still believe. In the magic and the music and in our fellow human beings.

The Magic Room

Last night, in a storefront on Broadway in Peru, there was some magic going on. Dusty baker / author / all round good guy Joe DeRozier threw "a bit of a party," with a gathering of downtown business owners, some writers, and a whole bunch of people who came to laugh, talk, visit with each other, and encourage.

Sarah Luginbill

It was magic, and those of us who participated are so thankful to Joe and to all of you. 

Photo by Sarah Luginbill

Speaking of magic...

It's all around us in the spring, isn't it? It's windblown, of course. Often wet. But it's green and it smells good and little people play baseball and shout "hey, batter, batter..." and adults gather on bleachers and find common ground where they hadn't realized it existed. It does exist, all the time, in the love for the players on the field and the playground and sitting over there somewhere with their eyes and thumbs glued to their phones. 

There's magic in stories you hear. I heard one the other day at DeRozier's that's not mine to share and it's not time to share it anyway, but I'm so much richer for having heard it. I told Kathy Bunker I worked with her mother-in-law at American Stationery and once Juanita relined a coat for me because I couldn't buy a new one. The sharing of the actions of a good heart are always good stories. Kathy was glad to hear it and I was glad to talk about an old friend and a job that was a good memory. 

There's more magic in stories you tell. Hearing about the ones they've lost helps people as they grieve, whether it's at a funeral home viewing, a celebration of life, or years later when you reconnect with someone while pumping gas into your cars. Telling someone when your kid has done good or funny things (thanks, Kim Eaton), thanking them for services they provide or favors they've done, telling them they've helped you make it through a day.

My husband plays music with a couple of other guys, Denny and Gary. They are young in spirit, but they've been playing music for...a while. It was magical when they came together, because Duane was in the first band Denny ever played in before the Three Old Guys came together and Gary was in the last. Kind of serendipitous, don't you think?

Duane Flaherty, Denny See, Gary Gillund

I'm late getting this posted today. Something else magical is your support of this column. Someone last night said, "Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's even better." I think maybe he was giving me too much credit, but he also gave me a truly magic moment. A really lovin' spoonful of good feeling. Thanks to him and to all of you. I hope you're all the lucky ones. 

Have a great week. Support local business when you can. Be nice to somebody.


Saturday, April 3, 2021

Everybody's welcome... by Liz Flaherty

Is it on your calendar? There's going to be a "Bit of a Party!" at 65 N. Broadway; Peru, IN 46970 at 6:00 PM on April 9. With thanks to Donut Joe DeRozier for hosting us, the lineup looks like this:

Signing and selling books will be:


Liz Flaherty - Window Over the Sink .
Debby Myers - Vex and Valor.
Sherry West - It’s Raining Cats! It’s Raining Dogs! It’s Raining Bats! And Pollywogs!
Caryn Suarez - Living Crazy Like Fly.
Joe DeRozier - Heck, I Don't Know...I Just Make Donuts.



***

Businesses represented will be:
The Wine Works - Jason McKeever Dreams to Reality/Aroma - Sandra Tossou Oasis Serenity Therapeutic Massage & Spa - Shannah Hight Boho-Chic Hair Boutique - Emily Hopper Anita's Boutique - Anita Day

Dirty Paws Pet Grooming and Pet Store - Michael Graves 6th Street Coffee -
Kreig Adkins
Gallery 15 & Studios - Sarah Luginbill



It should be a lot of fun! We hope to see you there!
***

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Words. Right Here in River City! by Liz Flaherty


I will try not to be sesquipedalian when I write the column today. Only showoffs are, you know...oh, and people who know more and better words than I do. Ones who walk down corridors instead of hallways, have fevered brows instead of sweaty foreheads, and suffer from plantar fasciitis instead of sore feet.  

The word sesquipedalian came from a word-of-the-day email I get from Merriam-Webster. I forget a lot of the words, and never use some of them, but then there are those that are just so...fun. 

Sesquipedalian--see? I keep repeating it in the hope that I'll remember it--means either having many syllables or using long words. I like it a lot, and when I say it, I think of Robert Preston singing "Ya Got Trouble" in The Music Man. There's a rhythm to it. A cadence. Measurement. 
I love words, but their pronunciation is often a mystery to me. If I have to read aloud from the Bible in church, I look up audio pronunciations of things like koinonia so that I will sound as if I actually know what I'm talking about. (Yeah, I know the Lord knows better, but He has infinite patience.)

I was in my 40s before I knew that Aloysius was actually Allo-wishes. I'm not sure I have it straight yet that epitome is e-pit-o-mee but Jerome is Je-rome. Isn't it? Or is Je-rome really Jer-e-mee? Which brings me to my son's name, which is Jeremy. Should we have spelled it J-e-r-o-m-e? I hope not, because I don't even like how that looks. Perhaps this is the underlying reason we call him Jock and always have.

I was also in my 40s before I learned to spell weird and diminutive. Not knowing how to spell them had never stopped me from using them in print, but it should have. 

Words become buzzwords. I'd never used the word efficacy in my whole life--I had to look it up to be certain of its meaning and I'm still confused--and yet it's suddenly in the news all the time. Do you remember when someone realized that harassment was a real thing and the word became what had to have been the most-used of that particular year? Only the pronunciation got changed. I still blink when someone says HARassment instead of harASSment. Did they do that so that the very fitting word ass wouldn't be stressed when they talked about it?

Etymology is the study of words and their origins. This is a word I'm really not too crazy about, because I get it confused with entomology, which is the study of bugs.

I do have favorites, though. I love the word serendipity, because it feels good when I say it. I like juxtaposition, although it sounds goofy when I say it. I like compassion, tolerance, joy, kindness, gathering. I like when words sound like themselves, like rain or gentle or laughter.

I like that I get to write this column every week and that you are kind enough to read it. There's another good word: appreciation

Got any favorites? Or ones you don't like? I hope you share them with us. Have a great week. Use good words. Be nice to somebody.

***

The #businessoftheweek is Gallery 15 & Studios. The gallery is beautiful and welcoming. It is a place to appreciate and enjoy art and music as well as learn from artist Sarah Luginbill and musician Ron Luginbill. There are paintings displayed that will complement any décor and, more importantly, find comfortable places in any heart.

Stop in or call to see what's going on. Arrange for lessons or just go in and sit a while and absorb. You'll feel better for having done so.

Gallery 15 & Studios
15 E. Main
Peru, IN 46970
(765) 469-9730