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

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Not What Was Intended by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink


Unless the Colts were playing...or a long time ago, Joe Montana...I've never watched the Super Bowl. I've seen a few halftime shows, but mostly I just find something else to do. However, I do love the commercials. I have enjoyed this year's Doritos commercial, every year's Clydesdales, and if Betty White shows up, all the better. 

I used to make shirts. One time I misplaced the buttonholes on one of my younger son's shirts. Once a buttonhole is made, especially if you cut the little gap between the stitches, it's...well, made. You can't undo it. So there was Jock's shirt with its top two buttons less than an inch apart and all the rest of them correctly spaced. Whether he meant it or whether he was just being a nice kid, he told me he liked them that way, and every shirt I made him thereafter had the top two buttons less than an inch apart. 

Kathy Mattea

One time years ago, we went to a concert at Honeywell. The guy we went to see was really good. We loved his show. But his opening act was outstanding--we really loved her.

I ordered a pair of jeans recently. When they came, they were the wrong size. I mean, they were the size I ordered, but they were too big. I was going to send them back, but they were so...comfortable. And if I'm walking on a cold day, there's plenty of room to wear leggings with them. They're not my favorites, I don't think, but somehow, they end up in the wash more often than anything else. 
Of the books I've written, fewer than half the titles I've chosen have stuck. Most of the time, I'm okay with what ends up on the cover (although not always--want to talk about The Debutante's Second Chance?) Occasionally, I really want the title I've chosen. Such was the case with The Happiness Pact. Five years or so later, I don't remember what I originally named the story, because The Happiness Pact was perfect. 

When I met Duane Flaherty in May of 1969, he didn't like me. At all. In May of 2021, we will have been married 50 years. He says he likes me now. 

We all make plans, don't we? The Super Bowl is the Rolls Royce of televised football games, carefully planned by the people who are going to make money from it. The shirt pattern gives very concise directions on where to put buttonholes. Every writer I know puts a lot of thought and heart into the working titles of manuscripts. I couldn't wait to get the jeans I ordered, but they're not what I intended at all. I don't think Duane meant to ever like me that day in Keller Kleaners when we met. 

I remember writing about this years ago, only I was writing about my plans for adulthood in general and motherhood specifically. My kids weren't who I thought they'd be. I was nowhere near as good a mother as I wanted to be. Truthfully, if there's a mistake I haven't made in life, it's because I haven't thought of it yet. 

But I'm so happy to have our kids be who they are and not reflections of plans we may have had for them. I'm glad Duane liked me last instead of first. I'm glad the books I write are more about what's between the covers than what's printed on the front one. That Jock liked his shirts with funny buttons, that we got to see the opening act, that I like the commercials even if I don't watch the game. 

I was wondering when I was writing this if it's stuff I've figured out during the pandemic, when plans are...well, pretty pointless. But it's not about plans or even goals, is it? It's about finding the good and enjoying it until you have to let it go. And then finding the good again. It's about loving when you don't feel like it, laughing when crying would be easier, and to put it into social media language, scrolling on by if it's something you can't change. 

Have a good week. Stay warm and safe. Be nice to somebody. 


 
Heard in The Nail Studio: "I AM relaxed!" "Choose your color." "Have you been oiling?" "How's the family?" "How are you? Doing okay?" "Coffee?" "Want some water?" Sisters Gina Lopez and Julie White are the techs in The Nail Studio at 302 E. 3rd Street in Peru, although you get to the shop on Wayne Street. 

There are often flyers hanging on the wall for fundraisers and community events. You can order your cheeseballs there. If you need to talk, people will listen. If you need prayer, it’s free without asking. If your hands need gentleness, Gina and Julie know that. If you need a little longer massage, they know that, too, because the tightness in your hands will tell them.

Like most businesses in small towns, in addition to making a living, it's about community, family, and caring. Nail care is by appointment and the phone number is 765-473-5866. Julie and Gina work with your schedule and will often rearrange their own if it's necessary to a client. 

Gina Lopez and Julie White

Added later: I just found out (via Facebook) that today is Gina Lopez's birthday. Happy birthday, Gina! Thanks for opening The Nail Studio in Peru. 


Saturday, January 30, 2021

When the Weather Outside is Frightful by Debby Myers

Today when I let my dog outside, there were light snowflakes falling. It was so


pretty and peaceful. I was still in my robe and slippers, but I had to step outside just to watch and take it in. When I was a little girl, snow was the greatest. All the neighbor kids would bundle up and trek through the snow. We’d go sledding at the park, have snowball fights, make snow angels, and build snowmen in each of our front yards. We’d be outside so long, we’d be freezing before giving in and going home.

Being in my 50’s, I’ve seen a lot of it in my lifetime. I am certain my mom purchased more winter garments in one winter than most kids today get in all their childhood years. They don’t own snow pants, a scarf, or a sock hat with a pom-pom on top. If they have mittens, one or both are lost. Many prefer a hoodie over a puffy down-filled coat and aren’t affected much by the frozen stuff. I’m not sure they know what a true “snow day” is since school closes at the mention of the word. SNOW.

Now, if you really know me, you know I have been outspoken that I haven’t been a fan of snow. I worked in Rochester for many years. Like the school administrators, I wanted to declare a “snow day” every time I had to make that drive on a blustery day. More often than not, I drove home after dark. I know all of you know what I mean when I used the words “space snow.” It would completely mesmerize me making it hard to concentrate on driving. 

The worst drive I ever made in the snow was when I had been asked to fill in at a store in Huntington. It started to snow on my way there. Then it continued to snow throughout the busy crowd of shoppers picking up essentials – you know those…milk, bread, eggs. It felt like the 10-hour shift flew by. But then I had to drive the 40 miles to get home with 6 inches of snowfall and counting.

When I pulled out on highway 24, cars and trucks were bumper to bumper creeping on the icy, snow covered road. As we inched along, it started getting dark, making it even harder to see through the heavy snow falling. After an hour I had travelled 20 miles. I had nearly hit other cars several times and almost been hit just as many from sliding. I had my hands clamped on the steering wheel so tight that my fingers were cramping, and I had a terrible headache, likely from the stress of it all. 

But then, as if it couldn’t get any worse, my driver’s side windshield wiper broke off. I completely panicked. I couldn’t see at all – I had to figure it out. I secured the glove on my left hand, rolled down the window, and started clearing the window manually as we creeped. Then my cell phone rang, and it was my husband checking on me. He wanted to come and get me, but with the traffic and the snow, it wasn’t even possible. I don’t think either of us remembers what I said, but I know I started to ramble and cry, then screamed I couldn’t drive and be a windshield wiper all at once. 

It took 2 hours and 10 minutes before I pulled into the Walgreens parking lot and started to sob. Hubby was waiting on me there. He brought me hot coffee, put me into his warm car, and drove me the rest of the way. I really hated snow.

Although we haven’t had much the past few years, I have to admit, I miss it…especially seeing the kids enjoy fun playful activities in the snow. My youngest two grandchildren haven’t even had the chance to experience that yet. I miss looking out and seeing everything so crisp and white, pretty and peaceful.

Of course, since I don’t have to drive to Rochester or Huntington or anywhere in it anymore, now I want it to snow…a lot. How about you?

***


Family-owned for 15 years, DeAngelo's Pizzeria of Denver, Indiana is on the same  street as the park and the baseball diamonds. Owners Hayley and Kevin Hostetler and their employees are friends and neighbors of the community, generously helping with fundraisers and keeping young ballplayers fed. The food and ice cream (ask me; I know ice cream - Liz) are wonderful. If you haven't tried them yet, I recommend the ham and cheese. And the pizza. And...

Heated outside dining is available. The menu is extensive and the phone number is (765) 985-3126. 





Saturday, January 23, 2021

Applesauce Pie and Philodendrons by Liz Flaherty #WindowOverthe Sink

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

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

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

So I did. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~



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

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



Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Pearls and Blue by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink

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



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

No, they couldn't.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good week. Be nice to somebody.


Saturday, January 16, 2021

In January by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Keep on Walking by Samantha DeTurk Grudzien #WindowOvertheSink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Reusing the Canvas by Liz Flaherty #WindowOvertheSink



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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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