Saturday, December 25, 2021

How We Look at It by Liz Flaherty


It's not our house. We don't have a fireplace or built-in bookshelves or a pillow with a truck on it. There are gifts under our tree, including some pretty buffalo plaid gift bags. The resemblance ends there, but it's a pretty picture, isn't it? And the verse is from Luke, in the story of why Christians celebrate this day.

This has been a different holiday season. There have been losses and will be more. Grief is heavy and hearts are broken and I don't know what to say to anyone to make them hurt less. Then again, grief is an organic part of love. The knowledge that we will lose someone, or be lost to them, doesn't make the love any less precious, any less splendid. We would not give it up. Not a single day of it.

I hold onto memories, don't you? Of my kids sitting on the stairs making noise so we'll wake up. (I say my kids, but the boys have always blamed Kari, and since she still does it, who am I to say they're wrong?) I remember when Jock saw Santa and when we saw deer crossing the road in the snow as we were on our way home on Christmas Eve. I remember yellow bicycles, ping-pong-ball guns, and a Holly Hobby dress. A mandolin that was never played and enough Craftsman tools to have opened our own Sears. A Linde Star ring and year after year, gift certificates to JoAnn's and Walden Books. I remember robbing Peter to pay Paul to get through December and not really having as much money as month until March or so. 

I suppose there have been unhappy Christmases, too. We had one in the midst of remodeling when we didn't have a Christmas tree, one that...well, I don't really recall any that were really unhappy--even the one without a Christmas tree. Sometimes a poor memory is helpful. (It's also one time when I'm actually able to let something go, rather than worry it to death. But I've written that column before.)

It was unarguably more fun when the house was full of kids and then later when grandkids filled the random spaces that weren't already stuffed with torn wrapping paper and wishes fulfilled. I suppose a part of me will always miss that, but mostly I'm grateful to have had it. Grateful for what we have now. That we laugh a lot. That we make mistakes and forgive and are forgiven. 

I'm thankful for friends and family and sunrises and sunsets and the 30 days of November when I'm reminded of gratitude every day. I'm grateful for the Light of the world and that we celebrate both His birth and His life.

This column is like the gifts under the tree this morning. Little and big, good parts and parts that failed, shiny bow parts and no bows at all. It's raining this morning, and unseasonably warm, but I've done my 15 minutes of housework this morning, fed the cats, came to the office in my beloved orange raincoat I bought in Maine, and am sitting here with my coffee. I'm warm, blessed, and happy. 

One of my less attractive writer-traits is my dedication to comparatives, but I can't help his one. Happiness is like a shiny, polished pine board, isn't it? It's beautiful and lasting, yet has all these knots in it that can either enrich it or deface it--it's all in how you look at it. 

Wishing you happiness, knots and all, and gratitude. Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

About What Fascinates You...


No Window Over the Sink today (I'm calling in tired), but hope you'll stop by here and share the things that fascinate you. 

See you next Saturday, the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord. Wishing you happy days and celebrations.

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Second Saturday by Liz Flaherty

I am sort-of taking the week off, but let me leave you with a few things...

The community concern that was addressed in the Window last week has been resolved satisfactorily. I am happy for the North Miami community, the Grant family, and especially for the kids who are reassured that their needs and their thoughts are important. 

Today is Second Saturday in Peru. Although the wagon rides have been canceled due to the high winds, I think other things are going on. Including shopping, music, and--always--good things to eat.

There is also music at the Miami County Artisan Gallery and I'm sure other places I have not seen. If you know of activities today in in the next days, please put them in the comments section. The week ahead is full of opportunities to listen, sing along, and offer support to people and businesses in the community. 

Speaking of music, there will be some in Logansport tonight, too, at Black Dog, Peoples Winery, and U Know Pizza, and I'm sure in other areas as well. 

Prayers go out to everyone all over the Midwest who were affected by the storm system that went through last night. The loss and damage are horrifying.

For myself, I am only a week behind with Christmas cards, don't have my tree up in my office, and am already started on my holiday weight gain. For those of you who are joining me in that last endeavor, see you on the Trails after Christmas.

I also signed a three-book contract with a new publisher this week, which made me embarrassingly happy, and below is the cover for my next book, Life Is Too Short for White Walls, which will be out sometime in the New Year. If you'd like an advance PDF reading copy in exchange for a review, get with me.

Thanks for stopping by. We'd love to hear any news you have to share. Stay safe and have a great week. Be nice to somebody. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

About Joe Grant by Nick Stuber

Second in the series about Coach Joe Grant. Today's post is from Nick Stuber, who knows whereof he speaks. Thanks to everyone for reading, responding, and caring. Be nice to somebody. - Liz

Photo stolen from Skyler Wilson

I believe there is power in what we say. There are a lot of narratives, statements, and words that get thrown around because people like to hear their own voice. We think speaking all the time is more powerful than saying the right thing at the right time. I'm writing this because right now is a very important time to say some really important stuff.
Joe Grant has been my friend and teammate our whole lives. More importantly he is like a brother to me. We grew up playing sports together and often times competed for playing time in the same positions. He could have hoped for me to fail, spoken bad about me, or tried to undermine my growth. Joe did none of those things. In 2006 we were both competing for the starting catching spot on a pretty good baseball team. Joe invited me to work out on Sunday at a local batting cage. He was quite literally one of the best teammates I've had. He’s quite literally a leader who often times cares more about the people he leads than himself.

Maybe there should be more wins. Maybe there could be more points scored. If you are solely looking for the success of a coach or a program by looking at the scoreboard you will ALWAYS miss the REAL PURPOSE of sports. It's a game. There are winners and losers. If coached properly you can lose on the scoreboard and still win in life. This epitomizes Joe Grant. Joe invests in all the kids in that school, not just the ones he coaches. He cares not only about these kids as athletes, but as people. He could settle by only focusing on making them successful athletes, and he would have done his job, BUT he focuses on building comprehensive men. Ones that not only give their all on the field, but in the classroom, in the community, and in their homes. I can’t think of one thing that this school and community needs more. His impact is beyond measure of a scoreboard and a tally of wins and losses.

He’s impacted me as a person, but also my home. Recently my family moved and we stumbled up a box of old high school keepsakes. While looking through the yearbooks, newspaper clippings, and team photos, there was one question my second-grade son kept asking: “Where ‘s Coach Grant?” Not where’s Mom, not where’s Dad, but “Where’s Coach Grant?” In three short years in my son's life he has made a huge impact on him. He loves football because of him. He writes stories about Coach Grant for writing assignments in class. He and his friends play recess football, all of this because of a man who doesn’t even work in their building but works in their lives.

He might have lost some games, maybe even some supporters, but if this school lets Joe Grant go because of a small group of unhappy people, WE will have lost way more than could even be described. Joe and Britney’s family will lose so much, his players and students will lose, and even young second graders will lose out on the opportunity to be impacted by Joe.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

About Joe Grant... by Jeff Grant

I love the school up the road. I've loved it since I first went there in the seventh grade. Loving doesn't mean I never get frustrated or disappointed or worried about the way things go there. Two of my kids teach there--I worry and pray about their safety on a daily basis, as well as the safety of the kids they teach and love and support. I worry about those kids being prepared when they leave school. I don't worry about them being, to use one of my grandson Skyler's favorite words, "stellar" athletes, but am thrilled to death when they graduate as stellar people. 

Coach Joe Grant does a lot toward that "stellar people" thing. I'm going to be posting some things about him this week, written by others who know both him and the situation much better than I. 

Today's entry was written by Joe's brother Jeff. While his idea of "short and clear" may differ from mine, what he has to say is important and I'm grateful to him for sharing it. Thanks for reading. Be nice to somebody. - Liz

Ima keep this short and clear.

On Wednesday, Joe was scheduled to have his evaluation for the fall football season with the athletic director. When it came time for the meeting both the AD and principal were present.

After a brief conversation between the principal and Joe, the principal then stated that they would not be renewing his coaching contract for next season and they would like him to resign so they could take it to the December board meeting.

Let me start by saying if the AD thinks that there needs to be a change within the athletics in any sport, he has every right to address it. In fact, that is his job. He’s the head coach of the entire athletic department. That’s what NM hired him to do. Knowing a little bit about the coaching world, every coach is given an evaluation at the end of each season, where the AD evaluates the coaches. Where they can list concerns, things to work on, expectations and so on. So if he has concerns there are opportunities to express them. And if he would like to not renew the contract, well I’m cool with that and in the grand scheme of things we should accept it because he was hired to be the head coach of the all the coaches and athletes.

Joe is the NM football coach and will be until or if the school board votes him out. Normally it would work something like this: AD would make the recommendation to not renew or fire the coach to the superintendent, who then would make a decision to take the recommendation to the school board or dismiss it.

So again Joe Grant is the NM football coach until or if the elected officials on the school board vote him out.

I love this part! Why are we here? Was there a school board meeting? No, we are here because someone jumped the gun. Do all the school board members know about this? I know a few of them found out via Facebook just like some of you. Does everyone in the administration agree with it? I don't know, nor is that a concern to me. Because again this isn’t my job--I’m not an administrator at NM.
No, we are here because for the first time in my adult life, the NM community has halfway stood up for themselves. And the student body, “the kids,” have united and done a very respectful job of expressing their concerns, wants and needs. And I’m pretty sure the group of kids going through school at this time worldwide are facing way more obstacles and concerns than any of us have ever seen. I’m super proud of the way they have carried themselves. Shows a lot about who they have been coached and mentored by.

Joe Grant has never received a negative mark on his evaluations. For either coaching or teaching. This includes the evaluation for this past football season.
The school board has never had any (official) discussion about removing Joe from the position.

There has never been any discussion with Joe on his program or concerns that any administrator might have had.

Joe Grant coaches three varsity sports.

Runs weights programs.

Joe Grant started a non profit that raises money for NM football players. This in turn has made playing football at NM basically free for 7th -12th grades.

Joe will have his master's (I don't know what for--something in EDUCATION) before the start of next school year.

I think what I think doesn’t really matter! But as an administrator at the school, if you have concerns with someone’s program, you should address the issue. Through evaluations and/or personal meetings with the coach and or staff, especially if you are former coach yourself. So again, if you are gonna fire someone--on what grounds? what do his evaluations say?--have you, as the leaders of the school, the coach of the athletics, done what is necessary to make this decision?
As a school board, you are elected officials voted on and representing the community members. This is your opportunity to ask questions, get answers and find out what really is the agenda. Is the community being well represented? Is someone going to be held responsible for this chaos? Why is North Miami the topic for the entire surrounding areas?

Why is Joe Grant having to go through this publicly?

Is this a personal attack?
In the community, I’ve heard a lot of “it’s happening again.” Well, what are you doing to help the situation?
Still opinion:
Here’s my challenge to you:

Be transparent, vocalize your opinion, and stand behind it. I don’t care what your opinion is--just stand by it and publicly let it be known. Be mindful of people. We can have a conversation and not bash people.
Here’s mine. I don’t think they will fire Joe nor do I think they should, for so many reasons. But if they do, I’ll be happy because I know he’s meant for more than being a football coach. I know that the next place will take advantage of the man and leader they have. I know that he’s done it right from day one and he will continue to do it right. I know that he’s transparent and has what’s best for the community on his mind. I know he loves his players and students. I know the man he is.
It’s funny the night I found out and we finally were alone, I gave him a hug (yeah, I know, right) and his first words were, “Well, you didn’t say I told you so.”

Friday, December 3, 2021

If you like my cover... by Liz Flaherty

Sneaking this in here. I so love this cover and this book. A reminder that you can order it, signed, from me here

They say not to judge a book by its cover but I need you to do just that. If you liked the cover of my book, Window Over the Desk, please vote for it for the Cover of the Month contest on!

I’m getting closer to clinch the "Cover of the Month" contest on AllAuthor! I’d need as much support from you guys. Please take a short moment to vote for my book cover here: Click to Vote!

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Scratching an Itch by Liz Flaherty

Because, while my mind may be teeming with thoughts and ideas and plans and forgetting things, it's not teeming with any publishable words at all. This always puts me into panic mode, because it's been a while and I'm not ready to stop writing the Window yet. What would you do without it to read on Saturday mornings? (Yeah, I'm being facetious--I am so grateful to those of you who do read it every week.)

I found this while wandering around seeking out ideas, because they're really NOT teeming right now. I wrote it for a writing blog, but it was so much how I'm feeling 10 months later that I decided to use it. Because it's there. That itch.

I'm sitting here at my desk on January 30. Watching the clock. Because my phone says that in 15 minutes, snow flurries will start. And over the course of the next day or two, something like 10 inches of snow should arrive. Since we are retired and since we have plenty of milk, bread, coffee, and toilet paper, I'm not worried a lot about it. My husband's not looking forward to dragging out the snow blower, for which I don't blame him. 

And there's always this little itch at the back of my mind that I can't reach to scratch.

What if something happens?

We are what is euphemistically referred to as elderly, so it's always a bit of a concern, I guess, although I doubt we worry as much about it as our kids do. We have lived long and prospered, not to mention we've loved and laughed a lot. And we've been happy. 

But that's not even why I brought that up. I brought it up because What if something happens? is the beginning of every story we tell. The only advice about writing I ever give with any surety is to start the story when something changes. 

When something happens.

This, it is a simple concept. It's also one I have some trouble with. Because I like introspection. I like dialog. I love humor. I tolerate conflict. I can go on for days writing those things, and sometimes that's exactly what I do. Of course, all the time I'm writing this lovely prose, nothing is happening in the story.

The word for it in publishing is "pacing." I know this because it's been mentioned to me so many times. Usually, the word "slow" is in there somewhere, too. 

I know I'm largely preaching to the choir here, but the lesson is a good one. I hope I learn from it by writing this. Now, snow flurries are supposed to have already started. They have not, but one of the cats is meowing worriedly, and bare branches are moving fretfully against a moody sky. 

Something is going to happen.


Frankly, I often don't like the feeling--it's more foreboding than anticipation, but we don't always get to choose which itch is making itself known in the back of our minds. 

What we get to do is the best we can with not only the story we're writing, but the one we're living as well. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and that you have a wonderful week coming up. Be nice to somebody.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Day 20, #30daysofgratitude by Liz Flaherty

I don't have much to say today, which could be a harbinger of me never shutting up. Just giving you a heads-up on that. That's how it often goes.

Kudos to the nurses and the pharmacist who've given us our Moderna vaccine injections. From the first shot through my car window to the booster last night, you've all been caring, efficient, and thorough. Two of you were funny, too, which makes any day better for me--that and the fact that I hardly felt the needle. Thank you all for doing what you do.
Kudos to the delivery person who backed her white truck into our mailbox. You stopped, called it in even though your truck wasn't damaged and the mailbox merely looked drunk, and apologized profusely to me even though I only stopped to get the mail, not notice the box's eastward list. Kudos to the boss who came to look at the box and straighten its post, then come to the house and talk to us. If I were a hiring person, I'd be looking to steal both of you. 

Kudos to Sarah and Ron Luginbill for adding music to the arts offered by Gallery 15 & Studios. There was a record crowd the other night and the music was varied and joy-filled. "In times like these" (a direct and stolen quote from someone) we need the arts--and the joy--so very much. 

Kudos to an eighth-grader named Jonah who brought down the house with his violin and put a face on Tourette Syndrome for those of us who knew little or nothing about it. Thanks to his father for explaining things to me and for being so quietly proud of the boy who made the strings dance.

Kudos to Maine for eliminating single-use plastic bags. I love the paper ones and didn't mind a bit paying the nickel some stores charged. While we were there, I also developed an almost-quick-enough ability to say, "I don't need a bag, thanks," which I've continued to use fairly successfully since coming back home. 

Kudos to Sara Musselman for trying so hard to save the trees. Although there were reasons for cutting them down, the pretty little town of Denver isn't as pretty as it was a week ago. 

Kudos to everyone, everywhere, who's administering the certainty that many kids will have good Christmases. To ones who fill backpacks to make sure they have food over weekends. If you've never had need, I'm glad for you, but if you respond to the needs of others, I'm even gladder.

Kudos to all the people who serve, head-down against the daily onslaught of criticism, of being crucified for sins committed by the "rotten apples" in your midst, of being called names. 

I admit to being depressed and upset by recent events. It's hard, as I whine on a consistent basis, always being the much-despised minority in the state and community where I've spent my entire life. It's lonely, and sadness is sometimes hard to get around. 

But all those people above have lent goodness and light to what seem like consistently bad and dark days. Since this is November, on Day 20 of #30DaysofGratitude, I am grateful to all of you.

Have a good week and a food-filled and blessed Thanksgiving. Be nice to somebody.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Come Shop with Us

Welcome to the Window Over the Sink's First Annual Book Sale. Joe, Kathi, Debby, Nan, and I all just know you want to buy books as Christmas gifts, so we thought we'd make it easy for you. 

We also want to thank you for your readership, the laughs you share with us, your reviews, and your kindness. Consider this our leap into the holiday shopping season. Thanks for coming!

Joe DeRozier

Joe DeRozier sits at a big table in his bakery. The sheeter's over there. There are racks with trays of donuts. A police officer stops in. His kids come by. Someone up front wants a particular pastry--does he have it? His mother-in-law visits there. She's beautiful. Joe thinks a lot and writes it down. Those thoughts draw portraits of his mother-in-law, the police officer, and the town he loves. He says he just makes donuts, but he does more. Much more. Welcome to DeRozier's. Enjoy the visit.

Joe's offering both of his books for $30 with $5 shipping.  Book One, Heck, I Don’t Know…I Just Make Donuts, alone would be $20, Book Two, My Dog Pees When Company Arrives…I’m Glad I Don’t, alone is $10.  

You can order off this form. He can mail it or you can pick up at the bakery. He has both books there and you can often con him out of a donut and some really good conversation.

Kathleen Thompson

Tiger Lily’s Cafe, a Cozy Mystery Series

By Kathleen Thompson

Written for adults; safe for teenagers.

A tourist town on the shore of a Great Lake.

Sunset Avenue, filled with vintage shops and ending at the beach.

A town always in the middle of a mystery or a murder. Or two.

A capable Chief of Police who comes to rely on the town’s famous cats.

Have they really figured out a way to communicate with him?

Find out for yourself! Order using an email form at

Mention the holiday sale. Or send an email to

Debra Jo Myers

The Vee Trilogy - A Family Saga

Written by Debra Jo Myers

For readers who love a good story

 Book one -

Vex and Valor


Imagine two families from different sides of the track living in the small railroading community of Brookston, Pennsylvania in 1969.

Tim and Vee Crawford have a picture-perfect life. They are parents to four children and are lifelong residents of a reputable housing development and owners of a successful and popular bakery, Vee's Sweet Treats.

Georgia and Zeke Hayes struggle to make ends meet. They move with four of their seven children from Tennessee after Zeke is hired on the railroad. The family lands in a cul-de-sac for the railroad personnel searching for a better life.

Then a marriage of their two youngest children – Ella Crawford and Ben Hayes despite objection from both families.

They can barely support themselves driving Ben to alcohol. Their children witness fighting between them.

When Ella is found unconscious and the couples' two children are missing, the two families are forced to pull together to find answers. Will the truth ever come out?


Book two -

Verdicts and Vows


It's 1994 with the two families more entangled than ever.

An attack on Vee's Sweet Treats, the Crawford family bakery. Thugs in masks torment those inside - including members of the Crawford and Hayes families.

A steamy unexpected affair sparks friction.

Forced together again at the wedding of a Crawford granddaughter to a Hayes grandson. When the two bloodlines were introduced, in much the same way in Book One, the union ended in tragedy. Will tragedy strike again?

More discovery comes to light about the unsolved mystery of Ella.

The families twist and turn like a Juniper tree. Readers will become more connected to each character as Book Three begins. The climatic Verve and Virtue will be available soon.

Specially priced at $20 for both books and a Christmas ornament, plus $10 if you wish to have them shipped. You can also buy a single book for $10 and $5 shipping. Order and arrange for shipping or pickup from or message her Facebook page Free wrapping with pickup!

Nan Reinhardt

The Four Irish Brothers Winery is a romantic series from USA Today bestselling author Nan Reinhardt and Tule Publishing. The Flaherty brothers, Sean, Brendan, Conor, and Aidan have inherited their family’s historic winery in River’s Edge, a small town on the banks of the Ohio River that Nan modeled after Madison, Indiana, one of her favorite places. In the two touching and romantic holiday stories from the series, single dad and winemaker, Conor is waking from the grief of losing his wife, and rising star Aidan is an actor on a hit TV series, but has grown tired of the LA glitz and yearns to return to the stage. Maybe an old showboat can make that dream a reality. If you love sweet small town Christmas romances, you will fall in love with Books 1 and 3 of the Four Irish Brothers Winery series.

Liz Flaherty

You've been reading the Window ever since it opened over 30 years ago, and I am so grateful! Many of the columns have made their way into the books pictured above. They're available from online booksellers all over the place...or from me. Print copies would make...are you ready for it?...excellent Christmas gifts, especially signed and with a free ornament included in the package! I'm offering both books for $20 plus $5 shipping, or you can pick them up from me. 

 You can order from this form, email me, PM me, or leave a message here. 

Saturday, November 6, 2021

No matter the time... by Liz Flaherty

At 2:00 AM tonight--it's dark, so it's tonight, not tomorrow morning, okay?--the time will change. We will have changed most of the clocks before going to bed, so it won't be a real shock when I get up and it's only 4:30. I wake that early a lot of the time anyway, although usually I've had more sleep by then than I will have had when we gain tonight's hour. Or will we gain it? Will the day now have 25 hours or 23? 

I have complained about time change ever since 2005, when Indiana's governor argued "that 'Indiana Time' was bad for the state's economy because businesses outside of the state couldn't keep track of what time it was in Indiana," and decided we should go back to doing what had made people miserable before. They survived it then, so they could surely survive it until enough politicians said "enough!" or enough people know how to Google and say, "What time is it in...?" 

There is actually no point in my complaining, but that hasn't stopped me yet. I will, however stop for the moment even though I don't have anything else to talk about this morning.

Except yesterday morning when my friend Nan Reinhardt, who lives in Indianapolis, and I were talking about small-town-settings, because we both use them in books. Her small towns are nicer than mine because they're pretty perfect. I'm more pragmatic, so mine are more the way I know them because, you know, I've never lived anywhere other than small towns and cornfields. Mostly cornfields. 

But it was funny that when we were talking about the differences between urban and small-town, I went to get my nails done at the Nail Studio and didn't take any money with me. Or a checkbook. I couldn't pay with a card. 
I am a habitual offender, I must admit. I tried to leave Farmhouse Café without paying. I went to Hagan's in Denver with no checks and no money. When I pumped my own gas at Beecher's, I drove merrily away without paying. When we lived in town and had milk delivered, I paid with a check I hadn't signed. These offenses have taken place over 40-some years, but, yeah...habitual. 

But it never occurred to me that Julie wouldn't go ahead and do my nails, that Elmer Hagan wouldn't tell me to come back and pay the next day, that the guy who worked at Beecher's would have me arrested instead of calling Hagan's and having them suggest I go back and pay for my gas, that Missy at the café would think I'd not paid on purpose, that the milkman wouldn't call me and say he would go ahead and sign the check if that was okay. 

Things like that probably wouldn't happen in Indianapolis, Nan said. 

So I guess I'm pretty happy with the way things are. No matter what time it is. Have a good week. Be nice to somebody.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Trees, Flags, and Better Days by Liz Flaherty

I'm writing this early (very unusual--I'm more likely to be writing the column before dawn on Saturday morning), so if it seems "out of time," it probably is. 

What do you do when you write a column that tries very hard to focus on the positive, but your neighbor two miles away is flying a Nazi flag on his property and you've heard the news that someone--presumably the state of Indiana--plans on removing the trees that line State Road 16 along its path through Denver? 

These are not--for me--positive things. Not that the neighbor doesn't have the right to fly that flag if he likes; it's part of the First Amendment, which is one of my favorites, and indicative of his values--something we are all entitled to express. 

Removing trees is a hard one for me, because I'm too old to see replacement trees grown up, and if the ones there now are removed, I'll never again appreciate the string of silver maples that shelter the front porches that line Denver's main drag. However. There's always a however, isn't there?


Sara Musselman

Yeah, it's a hard one.

But look what showed up on Facebook this morning. My friend Mary Snow shared it, and I was so glad to see it again. It's just the best idea, and I'm going to start my Advent collection on November 1 instead of December 1, so that it can go to the food pantry in time for the holidays. 

Last week, I read aloud at an Open Mic at Gallery 15, performing among singers and a "chalk talk" presentation by Sarah Luginbill. It was such a fun evening. I'm always amazed at people who say "there's nothing to do," but they never show up when things are going on. 

Trunk or Treats are everywhere--have you noticed? I was going to put a list here, but it got too long. Visit the Facebook page Positive Future of Peru, Indiana and find them. I love Trunk or Treats, don't you? They are gifts from those who care, and we can't have too many of them. 

Maconaquah's marching band brought home the prize from the ISSMA Scholastic state finals. We saw part of their performance--the First Place was definitely deserved. 

Borrowed from the Kokomo Tribune

We had a book-signing recently. I got to sit at a table with Debby Myers and Joe DeRozier and drink Aroma's delicious coffee and  City Wineworks' delicious white and have a DeRozier's donut while listening to Denny and Duane play. We got to talk to people. I bought cards from Sarah and talked to representatives of Anita's and Boho-Chic. We laughed a lot. 

It was, all in all, a good week. I'm sorry about the neighbor and his flag. I feel less safe in my community now and I no longer want to walk the stretch of the Nickel Plate Trail close to where he lives. I assume this is the reaction he was looking for, so, okay, he gets it from me. 

I'll miss the trees in Denver. I still miss the ones that were cut down on 1500 North when I was a kid. I never noticed if the road was actually widened, but I sure do still notice that big empty space. 

There were sad hours this week. Times I sat and stared into space and had to dig deep for happy. I was mad a few times. Hurt. Frustrated.

And it was still a good week. I hope you had one, too. Be blessed in the one coming up. And be nice to somebody. 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

The Assignment: Write Something Scary by Navi Vernon

I love assignments. My daily to-do lists serve a useful purpose, but there’s nothing like an official assignment to set me on point. Blank screen and GO.

Hmmmm… on second thought, “write something scary” is somewhat ambiguous. The upside is that it allows a broad creative license. The downside is that it didn’t come with the neat parameters most often associated with an assignment. How should one run with this? 

Obviously, there are options. Write a scary story, write about something universally scary, or write about your personal “something scary.” Sometimes even those lines blur. 

Good people struggle daily with “something scary” in the form of mental illness, addiction, abuse, adultery, housing insecurity, terminal diagnoses – I’ll stop there but you know there are others. 

Uncertainty alone can be a “scary” trigger. A well-placed “what if” can set some into a tailspin of terror. 

Stephen King routinely writes something scary. His greatest gift is his ability to tap into some universal fear that we all had as kids. Whether the “something” lived under the bed or in a storm drain surrounded by balloons was irrelevant. The fear of the lurking unknown evil creeped us all out. Still does. I was 50’ish before I dared to dangle any body part over the edge of the bed after lights off. 

Seems like the more wrinkles I get the less scary life is. Either that or I’ve simply grown accustom to my fears and they no longer have the power they once did. 

My fears as a child were much different than when I was a young mother – hoping to keep my babies safe and healthy. The first night I set the bar pretty low for each of my three daughters. I just didn’t want them to stop breathing on my watch. Of course, parents are destined to live in perpetual worry if not downright fear about their kids—whatever their ages. Experiencing this kind of “something scary” is uncomfortable, but it’s worth it.  Guess that’s the price of love. 

Something scary has the power to wake you up in the middle of the night, but you don’t see many horror movies about unpaid bills. I suspect we’ve all been there at one time or another. 

And, all that, my dear listeners is what my friend, Nancy, would call revving up—the wandering free writing we do until we arrive at some central truth. 

I think I’ve arrived. What scares me now is that life windows are beginning to close. From the “you can do anything you set your mind to” of my youth to something less certain now. Almost 20 years ago, I went through a period where I needed a reason to get up in the morning—a reason to imagine a future. Long before making a “bucket list” became trendy, I put three things on a “long-term” to do list. 1. Graduate from college – check – better late than never. 2. Get buff – ha! It took me years to realize that “buff” is relative; something one achieves at (always) the next level, never the current one. I’ll settle for healthy – check. 3. Hike the Grand Canyon. No checkmark. One day, I realized I may have waited too long. Some windows close before we step through. We wait for more money or more time. We wait until… fill in the blank. And, then, one day that particular option has been grayed out. You couldn’t choose it now, even if you wanted to. It’s gone. 

A few years ago, I asked my mom to illustrate three children’s stories I’d written as an undergrad. Before I turned the series in for a grade, I’d added ridiculously rough sketches to the first story with wordy picture descriptions for the other two. I’d always treasured the quilts that had been collaborations of my mom and grandma. My stories paired with her drawings would give us a chance to do something similar for the next generation. I was pumped when I pitched my idea to Mom. 

Yet, even as I handed her the first book, she said she wasn’t sure if she could it. For an instant, I saw something unfamiliar in her eyes—self-doubt. Somehow, I managed to say, nonchalantly, “oh, well, give it a try. It’ll be fun.”

Inside I was thinking: What? She’d tackled projects like this before. Mom was a practical artist, more of “a figure it out as you go” vs. the artsy/visionary type. Like me, she worked best with an assignment. She loved a challenge. Mobility issues may have sent her to assisted living, but she was still quick-witted, smart, and creative. 

We didn’t mention it again for a week or two. One day, she handed the book back to me and said simply, “I can’t do this.” She didn’t make a big deal about it, so I didn’t either. It wasn’t until after her death when I found her sketching attempts in a small notebook that I realized she was right. Her practical, on-demand drawing skill that had served her well for a lifetime was no longer available. That window had closed. 

Suddenly the future seemed less certain. If it happened to Mom, it will happen to us all. 

As windows close, our worlds shrink, sometimes so gradually we don’t even notice. Until. Use it or lose it went from old adage to a warning for me. Logically, I’d always known that. But, this made it real—transformed it into my something scary.

Today, our planner leans heavily toward active vacations. “While we can,” I say. Joe gets it. There’s plenty of time to see things through a tour bus window when we’re old. A meme on Facebook sums it up for me. “One day I won't be able to do this, but today is not that day.” Stay tuned on that Grand Canyon hike.


Navi Vernon and her remarkable voice are part of Black Dog Writes, the writers' group at Black Dog Coffee in Logansport, Indiana. We meet the third Tuesday of each month at 6:30, weather permitting, and would love to have any local or regional writers or just curious people join us. 

Find and follow Navi at Living Commentary. You'll be glad you did!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Beauty and Gratitude

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

It was wonderful.

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

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

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

Like I said, wonderful. Thanks, Louisa. 

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.