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 d├ęcor 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



Saturday, March 20, 2021

Splintered by Time by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink


If you didn't know your age, how old would you be? I've thought about that off and on for a couple of weeks now. The question (for me) came from the lyrics of a song I don't remember by a group I don't remember that I heard...somewhere. Sometime. 

At the age I am now, recent memories are little pieces of the whole. Instead of wide swathes of color, they've become like a kaleidoscope. Always colorful, always beautiful, but never quite the same. When I was trying to come up with something profound and metaphoric, I thought of jelly beans, but they are always smooth. But my friend Marietta Snow used to bring stained glass candy to work. The flavors were separate, but if they hadn't been, the candy would have looked like this. 

That's the way memories are now. They have sharp edges and sometimes they are hazy. Splintered by time.

So, if I didn't know my age, I'd go back to when memories were large and complete and as smooth as jelly beans. Not sure what age that would be, but I know I'd like it.

I love women's clothing right now. The designers seem to have realized that many of us are not tiny, built like hourglasses, or 17. But, still...

I guess I'd go back to an age when clothes were more fun because they fit better.

I'm bewildered by the fact that five of the Magnificent Seven--our grandkids--are adults. One of the others has a driver's license and a job. Even the seventh one is a year or two into double digits. I think his mother tries pushing down on his head to slow his growth, but he's going to pass her up pretty soon.

Hmmm...if I were just 20 years younger than I actually am, they'd be little again. Maybe I'd do that.

The past five years have been pretty rife with loss and heartbreak, so I guess I could just be five years younger. That would work, wouldn't it?

I cared about all the wrong things when I was in high school. I was probably smart enough, but I wanted to be popular. I'm sure if I were 16 again, I wouldn't care as much about being popular, but I'd work harder at being smart. I'd be nicer, too. I wouldn't leave such a trail of things I need to apologize for.

If I were in my 40s, nothing would hurt and I could set down on the floor and actually get up without the help of a sturdy chair or a strong hand. The full-blown wrinkles that I'm melting into would be only harbinger lines denoting character. 

Maybe I would be 28 instead of the 48 I was when my first book was published. That was such a fun year, but if I'd been 28, my mom would have been alive to see it.

My friend Nan Reinhardt wrote about this a few weeks ago and ended up with the same conclusion I have. 

When I was younger, I looked better in my clothes, but could never afford to buy the ones I wanted. Nor did I go anyplace to wear them. 

I wouldn't change anything about my grandkids, including how fast they have grown up. Like my daughter-in-law, I'm all about pushing down on Eamon's head, but that's because then I get to hug him even if he does roll his eyes.


The last five years? I'd love to have not lost my brothers and my mother-in-law, to have not struggled with day-to-day things that were...a struggle. But what else would have changed if those losses and those conflicts hadn't been there? Different isn't always better. 

While I wish I'd been better at being in high school, no one could pay me enough money to go through that time of my life again.

My 40s were...yeah, probably my favorite time ever. But they were only meant to last 10 years. 

So, that conclusion? If I didn't know how old I was, I'd still be 70. My grands would still be growing up too fast. The regrets would still be there--potholes in life's road. But I've loved people my whole life, and been loved. And had a great time.

The memories may be shards of color now instead of big sheets of it, but they're just as bright. I apologize if I tell you about them more than once, but thank you for listening. 

How about you? What age would you be? 

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.

***


City Tire of Peru is this week's business of the week. In business on Main Street since the 1980s, their service and the friendliness with which it's rendered is a highlight of the town. With my tendency to run over nails, I get to visit them even when my tires are new! Stop in or give them a call.



 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

No Limits by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink

Just because it's pretty.
This morning, as part of my Facebook scroll, I read this: "In a society that has you counting money, calories, pounds and steps, be a rebel and count your blessings instead." It's a nice thought. 

I guess. 

But are we really that limited? As someone who's been on one diet or another most of my adult life, I'm always going to "count calories." As an only-fair-weather walker, I think it's fun to wear my Fitbit and keep track of my steps. I have enough money to eat, have shelter and health care, and donate some, so counting it isn't part of my regimen, but if I had a lot of it or thought I needed to, I probably would. When I had a cash drawer at work, I counted it all the time and liked working with money. (Although I never got all that good at it. Sigh.)

Even then, I manage to count my blessings every day.

Politics are limited now. Have you noticed? My father--and my siblings can correct me if I'm mistaken on this--always voted for party. My mom didn't. I never have, although my votes have nearly always leaned a certain way. Bipartisanship didn't used to be an anomaly--elected officials were able to think and act beyond the limitations of the party and give consideration to the needs of their constituencies. Do they tell us that they are limited by the logos on their hats when they're running for office and I just never catch on? 

There is a meme--how did I ever write without Facebook?--that says the opinions of entertainers and athletes are valueless. Another one that seems to indicate if you've never watched certain TV shows, you must be a better person than someone who does. There are ones who say if you're cautious, you're living in fear. Others that insist if you believe in science, you can't be a Christian. Or that if you're a Christian, you can't believe in science. 

I suppose that's what the term "cancel culture" really means, isn't it? It's not so much about a publisher stopping the printing of six books out of a children's author's 46-book catalogue. Or taking Confederate flags and statues out of statehouses. It's not about stopping organized prayer in schools--I'm here to tell you can pray anywhere you like; you just can't insist everyone else do it with you. 

Once again, I have no answers to this. Personally, I don't think anyone else does, either, because one of the first skills we give up is the one of listening without preconceived judgment. Yeah, me, too.

But it's so important that we stop this limiting of each other and ourselves, isn't it? So go ahead. Count those calories, steps, and money if you want to--it's a piece of cake to count your blessings at the same time. While you're there, watch whatever you like and turn off what you don't. Pray when and where and how you please. 

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody. 

Oh, and while you're out,   Get up, get dressed, and get DeRozier's!



Business of the week is DeRozier's Bakery. Not only are Joe DeRozier's pastries worth an extra turn around the block if you're counting those calories and steps I mentioned above, Joe is one of the kindest and most generous people around. A conversation at the table in his back room is a great way to start the day. He's an entrepreneur, an extraordinary donut-maker, and a gifted storyteller. 

The bakery phone number is (765) 473-6688 and the Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/DeRoziers-Bakery-235272106981456 Stop in for a donut, some conversation, and a copy of Heck, I Don't Know... I Just Make Donuts. He'll even sign it for you!

Thank you, Joe. 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Dear Nancy by Navi Vernon

Navi Vernon read this at one of the first meetings of Black Dog Writers at Black Dog Coffee in Logansport. As one who's loved and lost and loved again, she speaks with a gentle and knowing voice. I'm so grateful to her for sharing it with us today. To find other essays by Navi, visit her blog. You won't be sorry you did.


Dear Nancy,

I hurt for your friend who just lost her husband. As always, your gentle questions are wise and nonintrusive. What helped? What clearly did NOT? Your desire to, as you put it, “stand with her in her grief” made me reflect back to that time. You knew it would.

Enough years have passed that clarity has replaced the fog that overtook me for so long. I couldn’t have responded to your questions then. Now, the answers are within reach.

I hid after Allan died. Sounds like your friend may be doing that too. Don’t take it personally. She may not know it yet, but the fact that you care, and that you don’t presume to know how she feels gives you credibility as an authentic presence in her life. Write to her. I promise she will read and reread your words and they will strengthen her.

Everyone is different. It’s possible that supportiveness is solely in the eye of the beholder, but I don’t think so. Humans respond to empathy and compassion. Trying to fix, minimize, distract, or simply check “offer nice words” off your list isn’t helpful. Doing no harm seems a good universal practice.

A wise man once said, “you can’t know what you don’t know.” I have no doubt—none—that my own efforts through the years to console or comfort people in grief have fallen short, despite my best intentions.

From my perspective, there were five kinds of post-death gatherers—all with good intentions.

First, were the “well-wishers” who sent a Hallmark card signed only with their name, paid their respects at the memorial, and offered well-worn platitudes.


Second, were the “distancers,” those who knew us and cared but found the whole situation overwhelming and simply stayed away. I’ve never held it against them. I’ve always assumed they had bigger issues around uncomfortable realities.


The third group was the “gut punchers,” who made me feel worse, although I wasn’t sure why at the time. “At least he didn’t suffer,” “at least you were home,” at least, at least.” Your label fits. I share your disdain for the at-leasters. Others grief-trumped me with their own horror stories (conversational narcissism at its worst). Who knew grief is a competition?


Fourth, were the “loyals,” those who loved us and bore witness to my total devastation. Although most of them had no frame of reference, they never gave up on me. And, with a nod to your insightful brilliance, they didn’t lie. You’re right, we don’t know how other people feel and we can’t read the future, so we don’t get to make that stuff up. Instead, the loyals continued to reach out with help/motivation/compassion EVEN when I was in hiding. EVEN when I couldn’t/wouldn’t respond.


Lastly, there were the “grief-standers.” Their heartfelt words outshone the dreaded platitudes. “I’m with you…. I’m sorry…. Don’t forget to breathe….” landed differently on my heart than “thoughts and prayers,” “so sorry for your loss,” and vague offers to help. Grief-standers offered specific acts of kindness. Karen sent a book of stamps with her card for the thank yous she knew I’d write. Louis and Margo gave me a $100 bill to cover unexpected expenses those first few days. Barb and Herschel brought a simple food that we christened “Man Bread.” Hot or cold, it gave visitors something positive to talk about.

A few not only stood with me in my grief but gave me a lasting gift, whether they knew it or not.

• My mom. Not just because she was my mom, but because she lost her husband (my dad) in a construction accident and was a widow at 21. She knew firsthand that the road would get a lot rougher than it felt to me in those first few “love bubble” days. Even after she and my step-dad returned to Florida, I knew she was just a phone call away. The gift: She wasn’t afraid of my emotion.


• Allan’s friend, Mike. Mike was out of town when Allan died. He cut his trip short and came directly to our house. I was sitting at the dining room table. The girls were there. My mom/dad, I think; maybe others. Mike walked in and simply stood in the dining room. When it was obvious he couldn’t take another step, I went to him. He just hugged me and cried. There was no doubt we were sharing the weight of this new reality. The gift: He didn’t shelter me from HIS emotion.


• Our neighbor, Sam. Sam is a quiet man. An introvert to the extreme. He and his family have a small farm with a big red barn and a plethora of animals–large and small. The stereotype that comes to your mind is the right one. It may have been the day after? For some reason, I was drawn to the front door. Had the dogs barked? I looked out and there stood Sam in the middle of the yard with a casserole dish in his hands. I walked out. He never said a word. I took the dish. We stood there–each with tears streaming. He tried to talk once and couldn’t. We just looked at each other and finally we nodded and he turned and walked home. In that shared nod, I felt all of his love, care, and concern. A look of full empathy. The gift: A total heart connection when you least expect it.


• My client, Cassie. Years ago, Cassie was a training director at Bank One. By then, I’d moved on from my job and she’d moved on from hers and we’d lost touch. Her mom still lived around here and alerted her when Allan died. A couple of weeks later, I got a letter from Cassie. Though we’d only known each other through a client relationship, here she was, speaking my language. I learned that she’d lost her husband to cancer the year before. She knew (as close as anyone could) about the void that is left, about the excruciating feeling of half of you being torn away–your history, your promised future. We wrote back and forth for years. Now, we’re connected on Facebook. We share the knowledge that even though we’re both remarried, we are WIDOWS too. That doesn’t end. You can love again. You should love again. But, that never (ever) diminishes the love that was. It’s not an either / or. Love is an AND. The gift: HOPE.


I leave you with my ponderings—quasi answers to your insightful questions. Maya Angelo said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” May we use our shared experiences and both become better grief-standers.


FYI – I didn’t proofread this. Decided that if I did, I’d likely delete a ton of it. So here it sits. As is. Raw.

Love,
N

 ~*~


This week's Business of the Week is 2 Days Boutique, at 39 N. Payson Street in Denver. Owners are mother-and-daughter team Mary and Katie Day and the hours are as follows: Sunday-Tuesday: closed. Wednesday & Thursday: 11-5. Friday 11-5. Saturday: 10-3. Their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/2daysboutique/?ref=page_internal 

2 Days has a cute selection of clothes, shoes, and accessories. Mary and Katie are always friendly and they're glad to help you find anything you need. I love going there!

Have a good week. Be nice to somebody.



Saturday, February 27, 2021

Ends, Beginnings, and Funny Feelings by Liz Flaherty

Our family sold our farm. The 40 acres on a corner had been in the family for well over 100 years. Although I am sentimental about virtually everything, I am not particularly so about the place I grew up. Go figure. Mostly I am happy that the person who bought the place will take care of it. He will respect and nourish the land in exchange for what the land gives back. So I'm good with it.

But the lilac bushes there on the corner where the house is were my mom's. They're big, glorious ones. I used to hide in the one there by the driveway near the old hitching post. I crawled into it so often there was a hollowed-out place in the middle of it. It is the one that bloomed in August in 2019 when my brother Tom died. I felt as if it was Mom assuring us that Tom and Dan and Christine were all with her and all was well. It bloomed again in August of 2020, and I hope it was Mom and Dad saying it was okay to let the farm go. It was time. 

There are blue spruces on the corner. My brother Dan planted them, I think. He had a way around blue spruces. 

A large rock sits there. My sister sat on that rock with her back to the rest of the world and figured out how to go on from whatever place she was in. Coming along later, I tried to use the rock for the same purpose. Didn't work. It was Nancy's rock, not mine. 

Thinking of the corner makes me ache and my eyes sting. There were five of us who grew up in that too-small house, and one little girl who died when she was only three. How many times did a school bus stop there in the 26 years there was a Shafer kid in school at Gilead and later North Miami? How many times did Mom watch us and imagine what Christine would have looked like climbing onto the bus?

Mom always kept things "for good," which is why I don't. I think she enjoyed having the things, and looking at them, while I enjoy using them. Neither way is wrong. But I remember boxes of candy sitting on the stairs at the farm (it was cold there on the steps--even colder at the top of them). I opened a box of chocolate covered cherries one time and found them collapsed in on themselves and hardened by time. That may be when I decided I wouldn't keep things, but use them. It was heartbreaking to have candy that couldn't be eaten.

Those stairs are still in that old house full of memories and things saved for good. Most of the things are gone now. We've taken them out, shared them among ourselves and given much away. We've wondered what some things were and why they were saved. Vandals have done their part, too, destroying and doing harm because...well, I don't know why they do it. I get angry about that because even in these last months of owning the farm, it was still my mother's house; it deserved respect if for no other reason than she loved it.

Maybe now, finally, I know why I've written this column this morning. It's a goodbye to the farm, yes, but it's also a thank-you to it. It's not that I was always happy there--I'm not someone who enjoyed childhood--but I was safe. I was loved. I was never hungry. It was where I learned that if you look hard enough, there is always something to laugh about. It's where I learned to be strong and to think for myself  and that no one owed me anything except whatever respect I earned.

Although selling property is always an end to something, the memories don't go away; they are yours to keep. I still hid in the lilac bush, broke the window on the front of the house--Dan dared me to see if I could throw the stick over the roof. I never said I was smart--and read 100s of books that started me on the path to writing my own.

I'm thinking about the family I grew up with as I sit here. My brothers and sisters and my parents and the ripples that came from them. Brothers' friends that I had crushes on, sister's friends who were funny and friendly and still are, and the neighbor's farm where we went every year for our Christmas tree (a dollar every year; thank you, Mr. Swigart.) 

I think of the song I talked about last week, Harry Chapin's "Circle," and once again his lyrics speak the voice of my heart. 

"But I have this funny feeling;
That we'll all be together again."

Amen. Have a great week. Seek out and treasure the memories. Be nice to somebody.

***

Anita's store is colorful, its inventory reasonably priced, and, kind of like "Alice's Restaurant," you can "get anything you want." It's a great spot for clothing, gifts, and one-of-a-kind items. The store's phone number is 765-470-2035. If you haven't been there yet, you're missing out!

 


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Bends in the Road by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink

Harry Chapin (1942-1981) was a gifted singer-songwriter. Think "Cats in the Cradle." My favorite song of his--at least right now--is "Circle." It is my favorite because I am at a time in my life when it has much meaning. Especially the following words. 

"There's no straight lines make up my life and all my roads have bends
There's no clear-cut beginnings and so far no dead-ends"


When we were first married, we had a table with three chairs. Someone gave them to us when they bought a new dinette set. I don't know if they're still called that, those oblong creations of Formica and tubular stainless steel. The seats on the chairs were upholstered in heavy plastic and the backs were either bolted between struts of the aforementioned steel or pushed down onto them. Once the plastic started giving way and tearing away in strips that revealed fuzzy yellow stuff, you could buy replacement ones that never fit quite right. 

By replacement time, though, we needed four chairs instead of three, so we went to Glazier's and bought our own dinette set. It was $139 and chances are good we had to buy it on time. We bought a lot of things from Glazier's, including the next table and chairs, which were made of wood. We got five chairs because there were five of us and six would have cost more. The fifth chair didn't match the others and it didn't last as long, but by the time it totally collapsed, the kids were starting to leave home. 

Our kitchen was small, so we got a little wooden table with two chairs and moved the other set into the dining room. We could now, if we searched out all the chairs plus the piano bench and possibly a bucket turned upside down, seat eight people at one time.


Then, I don't know when it was...years ago, we paid a visit to Glazier's for something and ended up with an oak dining room table the size of a small country and six new chairs. It's beautiful. I think we've only used it stretched to its full three-extra-leaves length a few times, but it's been nice to have. Letting it go is hard to think about.

But it's time.

I can't lend too much importance to the dinette set--I'll keep calling it that even though it's the least elegant of the terms we use for it. It's in your life from the time you're tied into a chair with a dishtowel in the absence of a highchair to when you're using it for a desk or a sewing table or a place to play Solitaire when you're older than you want to talk about. It's where you have hard talks with your teenagers, harder talks and hand-holding affirmations with the person you share your life with, where you laugh until tears are rolling down your face with girlfriends. There is no end to the joy and pain and healing that are shared across the table over the years.

The kitchen table is the place that you either get good at piecrust or you admit you're always going to buy it because yours is terrible. It's where families do much more together than just share meals--it's where they love each other without ever having to say the words. It's where decisions, both good and bad, are made. Hearts are broken and hearts are made whole. It is both a pulpit and a judge's bench. 

So now, here we are, although Glazier's is no longer that Big Store with a Little Door we depended on for so long. The big table will be re-homed soon and we need a new table and two chairs, maybe three. Our dining area hasn't shrunk, but our needs have. We're thinking a little dropleaf one that will sit flat against the wall. When the kids and the grandkids come home, they'll wonder why we got rid of the big one because they're at a different place on the circle's curve than we are. We are indeed back to its beginning, thrilled that there aren't dead ends here and wondering what's around the next bend.

Have a good week. Be nice to somebody.


I worked in Logansport for 30 years. One of my favorite places to eat was the Boardwalk Cafe on Broadway. I was delighted when they opened a venue in Peru, sad when they had to close because their building was sold, and thrilled again when they reopened on Broadway this week. We had lunch there today--Friday--and it was as delicious as always, the service was prompt and smiley, and we were full when we left. (I also used way more napkins than the average person, for which I apologize, but I'm also way messier than the average person.)


The phone number for Boardwalk is (765) 460-5003, and the hours are as follows. I hope you pay them a visit!

Monday- Thursday: 11:00 AM - 8:00 PM

Friday and Saturday: 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM

Sunday: CLOSED

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Vex and Valor by Debby Myers #WindowOvertheSink

Ebook Cover
When I was in first grade, our teacher asked us to write a story about anything we wanted. It could be something true or we could make something up. Although I don’t remember a lot about first grade, I do remember how excited my teacher was about my story. She gave me a permission slip to take to my mom so she could submit my story to children’s magazines to be published. The story was about a little girl who loved daisies. It was accepted by Children’s Digest and Highlights. Miss Gustafson told me she knew I would write a novel one day.

Since then, I’ve written many other short stories. I took every writing class I could in high school. My creative writing teacher said I had a gift. All I knew was that I loved to write! I was going to be a writer! Of course, then came…life.

When I was 20, I moved to Texas with my ex and my oldest daughter. I hated it and I started a journal that I later converted to a book. A few friends read it, but I was young and didn’t pursue it any further. I’d written it on an old word processor, so it’s lost now.

The next 30 years I dedicated to raising my children and working. I still took every

chance I could to write. I worked in radio, where I got to write news stories and ad copy. I worked as an Assistant Director of Development, where I composed a newsletter, donor profiles, and performance reviews. I ran a day care, writing original stories for the kids we watched. I was part of a non-profit, as well as a large corporation, where I wrote quarterly newsletters. But no novels.

About 10 years ago, I met Liz through our theater group. I was in awe of her knowing her accomplishments as a best-selling author. One day she asked me to write a story for her blog about directing plays. Since she’s been kind enough to let me write several more about: my multiple sclerosis, being in flying trapeze in the circus here, my father-in-law’s death, generation gaps with our children, depression, the death of my daughter’s baby when she was five months pregnant, being a best friend, even our cat’s disappearance for three months before he was found. I think she gave me writing fever again!

As the days of the pandemic went on…and on, I decided to start writing again to pass the time. At first, I wasn’t really serious about it. Yet the more I wrote, the more I liked what I was writing. I kept going. I am beyond thrilled to have had my first REAL novel published just last week. It is fiction with a culmination of my life experiences.

Paperback Cover

Vex and Valor
 
is the story of two families from different sides of the tracks. Tim and Vee Crawford are the parents of four children who are lifelong residents of Brookton, PA. Georgia and Zeke Hayes struggle to make ends meet after moving four of their seven children there from Tennessee.  They become intertwined through the marriage of their two youngest children, Ella Crawford and Ben Hayes.

The story begins with a fight between the married couple. The argument is overheard by their two young children hiding in a closet with their 10-year-old daughter watching through a crack in the closet door. Following the altercation, a neighbor finds Ella unconscious with no witnesses as to what happened to her. And her children are missing.

As Ella fights for her life, the children are found. Both she and Ben’s families gather, all waiting on word of Ella’s condition and looking for answers. Many believe it was an accident, while others, who know Ben drinks too much, think he may have caused this to happen. 

The saga begins in 1969 and takes place over three days. We are transcended into the lives of Ella and Ben’s families. The book is written in two sections. The chapters are short, moving from character to character and place to place. In section two, we watch the families become even more entangled and continue to search for answers about Ella. We meet new characters as we see the Crawford and Hayes grandchildren grow into adults, each with their own accomplishments and problems. The story comes to a climax when the truth about Ella is finally revealed.   

I’m pleased to say the book is available on Amazon in paperback or eBook. I’ve had a few challenges already. The cover was wrong on the paperback the first time, I found a few typos (that’s what happens when you self-publish, self-edit), and the chapter breaks are off in the eBook. But overall, I’m pleased. In its first week, it has sold better than I expected. Of course, all of my family and friends are the buyers so far. I’m hopeful some of you will check it out too!

The title Vex and Valor comes from the words tormented and fearless. As you meet the characters, you’ll see these attributes in the lead and in many of the characters. I also chose the title hoping to keep the stories of the Hayes and Crawford families going. I’m considering a three book V series to include Vows and Verdicts and Vengeance and Victors.

As a writer, it’s not really about how the book sells, but more of a feeling of accomplishment at its completion, the end product. I had so much fun writing it – I want others to have just as much fun reading it! Thank you, Liz, for letting me share it today with your readers!

Vex and Valor is available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08VTT9174


When Duane and I had lunch at the Farmhouse Cafe at 97 W. Harrison in Denver one day last week we chowed down, enjoying every bite, and talked to Missy Yocum. Then we left, waving as the door closed behind us. 

We got to the car before we realized we hadn't paid for our lunch. I didn't ask her, but I'd venture to say chasing recalcitrant customers down the sidewalk isn't Missy's favorite part of the business she owns and operates with her husband Dan. 

But every other part seems to be. The cafe is comfortable, the food is good, and there's always someone to talk to! The phone number, if you want carryout or to order ahead, is (765) 985-3000. The hours are as follows. Just remember it's a pandemic and sometimes things have to be changed. 
Monday:
6:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Tuesday:
6:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Wednesday:
6:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Thursday:
6:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Friday:
6:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Saturday:
6:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Sunday:
CLOSED