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 AllAuthor.com!

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 seems...no, 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. https://www.deroziers.com/book-order-form

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 www.tigerlilyscafe.com.

Mention the holiday sale. Or send an email to kathi@tigerlilyscafe.com.

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 debra.myers922@yahoo.com or message her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/debby.mullikin 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.


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A Bit of A Party!

 We hope to see you there!



This Friday we're going to have a "Bit of a Party"

65 North Broadway
Peru, Indiana
Friday, October 15th
4-7 PM
We're going to have Wine from our Wineworks.



Art from our Gallery 15.





Coffee and Hot Chocolate from our Aroma Coffee


Some gifts from our Boho-Chic Hair Salon


Snippets of all the things at our Anita's


D O N U T S


Live music from Duane and Denny


And a book signing from Best Seller, Liz Flaherty, Debby Myers and her trilogy,
and your dusty donut guy and his two books.




4pm-7pm!
Stop in to say, Hi!

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Saturday, October 2, 2021

When I Was A Kid


When I was a kid, people used the n-word all the time. They also referred to women as broads and numerous worse and more degrading terms. They thought certain factions of society needed to know their places and stay in them. Quietly. 

Terms like "got herself pregnant," "he's just out for one thing," and "you know what they're like" were bandied about with no thought to them being a gender or cultural insult. 

People who didn't fit into the white, Christian mold were lumped into a category known as Other. They were welcome here in the melting pot, but only if they fit in and kept quiet. 

As a kid, I rolled my eyes because Catholics couldn't eat meat on Fridays.

As a kid, I was very uncomfortable in friends' evangelical churches. Methodists, you know, are quiet. 

As a kid, I didn't laugh at others because I'd been laughed at and I didn't like it. (I'm fairly certain this is a barefaced lie--I'm sure I did laugh at people even if I didn't like it happening to me. As I said, I was a kid.)

There were no black kids in my school. No Hispanics that I remember. At that time, there weren't even any Amish. We said the pledge of allegiance every morning, prayed before lunch. We didn't swear where people could hear us. We didn't use certain words at all. At least, a lot of us didn't. For what it's worth, this is kind of like me thinking I never laughed at people--probably a raging case of selective memory.

Even now, I've used the f-bomb fewer times in my entire life than I'll read or hear it in a single week.

But that's because I don't like the word. I don't like the word "quip," either, or "desire," so I don't use them. I flinch when I see them. If any of them crop up too often in a story, I won't finish the book--words I don't like tarnish the reading experience for me.

For me. 

Things are different now. We can blame whomever we like. I definitely have some on my list and I'm sure you do, too. We need to accept that they are different and work within the changes. Maybe we need to realize that what was good for us for so long wasn't for the greater good. 

I've worked on this column all week, and I still don't know what to do with it. Yesterday, I tossed the whole thing. Last night, I found it and brought it back. Because even now, when things are different, nothing is more important than communication. 

We need to talk to each other, don't we? Without casting stones. I can't make cruelty and untruth and outright meanness okay in my mind. I can't. I don't want to. 

So, to anyone I laughed at, for any time I didn't object when I heard the n-word used, for anyone's feelings I've hurt because I acted as if their opinions and life experiences weren't as important as mine, I am sorry. I was wrong. I hope you will forgive me.

I will still say the pledge, hand over the heart, and get a lump in my throat when the national anthem's played. I will still pray when and where I want. That's me. You do what matters to you. If you need to kneel, I'll help you up when it's over. If you don't want to pray, I'm sure you'll be still while I do. 

I'll still watch my language. I'll still flinch at words I don't like. If you think that's funny or stupid, I guess that's okay. I think it's stupid that you use those words, too, but that's not my business, is it?

My business is to be tolerant. To not judge. To be kind. To be kind. To be kind. 

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody. 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

At the end of the day...

I'm sorry-not sorry to repeat this yet again, but it's a favorite. And Tuesday would be my parents' anniversary. Maybe it's a favorite because it reminds me of not only the goods in a long relationship, but the bads as well--and that we can get...not over them, but through them. Thanks for reading this again. 

In 2012. I had a book out called A Soft Place to Fall, about a marriage gone wrong and how two people found ways to make it right. I still have a soft spot for that book and for long marriages. I regret that I sometimes get a little too glib when I talk about it--I make it all sound easy when it's not at all. At the end of the day, though, marriage is private and what goes on within it is not to be shared. No one really understands anyone else's. Looking back on this, my feelings toward my parents' marriage haven't changed, but I have come to realize that--at the end of that day I just mentioned--it wasn't really any of my business.


“A great marriage is not when the 'perfect couple' comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.” ― Dave Meurer

On September 28, 1935, my parents went to a minister’s house and got married. My dad wore a double-breasted suit and my mom had on a hat. They stayed married through the rest of the Great Depression and three wars, through the births of six children and the death of one at the age of three, through failing health and the loss of all their parents and some of my father’s siblings. Dad died in 1981, Mom in 1982. They were still married.

From the viewpoint of their youngest child, who was born in their early 40s when they thought they were finished with all that, it was the marriage from hell. I never saw them as a loving couple, never saw them laugh together or show affection or even hold hands. They didn’t buy each other gifts, sit on the couch together, or bring each other cups of coffee. The only thing I was sure they shared was that—unlike my husband and me—they didn’t cancel out each other’s vote on Election Day.

“Why on earth,” I asked my sister once, “did they stay together all those years? Mom could have gone home to her family, even if she did have to take a whole litter of kids. Heaven knows Dad could have.” (He was the adored youngest son and brother—he could do no wrong.)

Nancy gave me the look all youngest siblings know, the one that says, “Are you stupid?” When you’re grown up, it replaces the look that says, “You’re a nasty little brat.” But I regress.

“Don’t you get it?” my sister asked. Her blue eyes softened. So did her voice. “They loved each other. Always. They just didn’t do it the way you wanted them to.”

Oh.

I remembered then. When they stopped for ice cream because Mom loved ice cream. How they sat at the kitchen table across from each other drinking coffee. How thin my dad got during Mom’s long illness because “I can’t eat if she can’t.” When they watched Lawrence Welk reruns together and loud because—although neither would admit it—their hearing was seriously compromised.
And the letters. The account of their courtship. We found them after Mom’s death, kept in neat stacks. They wrote each other, in those days of multiple daily mail deliveries, at least once a day and sometimes twice. When I read those letters, I cried because I’d never known the people who wrote them.

I have to admit, my parents’ lives had nothing to do with why I chose to write romantic fiction. I got my staunch belief in Happily Ever After from my own marriage, not theirs. But how you feel about things and what you know—those change over the years.

As much as I hated my parents’ marriage—and I truly did hate it—I admire how they stuck with it. I’ve never appreciated the love they had for each other, but I’ve come to understand that it never ended. I still feel sorry sometimes for the little girl I was, whose childhood was so far from storybook that she wrote her own, but I’m so grateful to have become the adult I am. The one who still writes her own stories.

But—and this is the good part—these are the things I know.

Saying “I love you” doesn’t always require words. Sometimes it’s being unable to eat because someone else isn’t. Sometimes it’s stopping for ice cream. Sometimes—and I realized this the other day when my husband and I were bellowing “Footloose” in the car—it’s hearing music the same way, regardless of how it sounds to anyone else.

Marriage is different for different people. So is love. So is Happily Ever After.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Christine's Coat


It was wool, its color dimmed and lost in time. It had mud on it, the kind a three-year-old gets when she plays outside on December days when the weather warms up. It was folded away in a dress box tied closed with...something. I don't know what the binding was, just that what was in the box was saved to protect part of my mother's heart. It was Christine's coat. Christine who died the winter of 1941 when she was three.

My mother saved a lot of stuff. So did my mother-in-law. The sheer amount of it lent me a determination not to save that much. I think I'm safe in saying 99 percent of the people in my generation feel exactly the same way. 

But we need to be careful. In what we save. What we use. What we throw away. 

Other than being a trifle excessive when it comes to shoes, I don't think I'm a "things" person. If I don't use it, I don't want to have it. However, sometimes a memory will be connected to a thing, and there you go. Upstairs in a closet hangs a blue nylon dress my sister bought for me when she was still in high school and worked at Senger's in the 50s. I wore it and my daughter wore it. Since my shortest granddaughter is in the six-foot range, I doubt she'll be interested in it. 

And yet...

I broke the spoon rest that had belonged to Aunt Gladys. I moaned about it, glued it back together, and put it up in the cabinet where I wouldn't damage it anymore. Yesterday, I got it out and returned it to its rightful place beside the stove. I'll use it and wash it every day. I'll think of Aunt Gladys playing pool on her lunch hour and sending cards with violets on them to my mom to let her know she wasn't alone with memories and thoughts of a little girl who'd left them too soon.

So I'll keep the blue dress and the spoon rest just as Mom kept the coat. For memories of my own. And that's reason enough.

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.


Saturday, September 11, 2021

On this Day... by Liz Flaherty




On this day, we grieve as a nation. We have mourned the losses of 9/11/2001 for 20 years. Regardless of Facebook memes and accusing tweets and ghastly opinion pieces to the contrary, we have not forgotten. Not for a single day.

I went to a meeting the night it happened, and Bobette Miller told me what she'd been doing on December 7, 1941. She remembered it in detail.

On November 22, 1963, I was sitting in study hall when President Kennedy was shot. The girl across the table said, "I wanted him out of office, but not that way," and it was my first realization that the political divide went deeper than I'd imagined.

Martin Luther King was killed on April 4, 1968. I will be forever ashamed that although I was so sorry it had happened, I didn't realize the depth and breadth of the pain that loss caused.

On June 5, 1968, my mom woke me to tell me Bobby Kennedy had been shot. That was when, more than a political divide, I learned about hate. My own. Sirhan Sirhan, who killed RFK, has been recommended for parole. Fifty-three years after he committed his crime, I am still horrified by the thought that he'll be free to walk the streets.

Columbine. Sandy Hook. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Since Columbine, according to the Washington Post, more than 256,000 children at 278 schools have been exposed to gun violence. At least 151 children, educators and other people have been killed in assaults, and another 323 have been injured.

I remember Nine Eleven. Where I was and what I was doing and that at first I thought it was just a dreadful accident.

I remember those other days, too. As I said, we grieve as a nation. We grieve, but we don't learn, do we? We never learn.

Have a good week. Be nice to somebody.


Saturday, September 4, 2021

About the time change...and other things

 

There is little I like less than the biannual time change. It takes me two weeks to get used to it and a good deal longer than that to stop complaining about it. I have asked many times over the years for legitimate documentation that demonstrates that the change is good for the majority. Or that the majority wants the time change. I have pleaded with lawmakers to explain its reasoning and to at least take some kind of poll to see how their constituency feels about having their lives upended by a tyrannical clock twice a year.

No documentation has been forthcoming. Ever. If lawmakers do bother answering my requests, it is with form replies that appear to address a multitude of possible situations that have never affected any Hoosier in the 200-plus years of our statehood. None of which have anything to do with changing time.

Since the time change isn’t scheduled until November, you may wonder why I’m starting my complaints so early. Do I really intend to keep going on about this until Thanksgiving, when my mind turns to more important things like food and family? Did I just hear mumbles of Get over it already! wafting through cyberspace?

Well, maybe, but I’m talking about it now because of how the sky looked when I came out to my office at six-something this morning. It was so beautiful I stopped in the driveway with the cats and just enjoyed it. Watching the changes that had nothing to do with legislation and taking a picture that isn’t a hundredth as good as the real thing was.

Now I’m at the point—perhaps you recognize it, since it happens almost every week—where I realize I don’t know where I’m going with this.

I think I’ll go this way.

Although the lawmakers have seen fit to legislate the clock, they haven’t yet found a way to shut down or charge for the ongoing and ever-changing beauty of the sky. I’m fairly certain they’ll find a way to tax it or perhaps put a bounty on people who’ve watched too many sunrises and sunsets to suit them, but we’re not there yet.

I’d just about bet it ticks them off that even though they’re able to make six o’clock into five o’clock come November, they can’t make the sky change its stripes accordingly. The days will still have only 24 hours in them and just as many of those hours will be dark as before.

Think about it. Government can mandate how we set our clocks and what women do with their bodies, but they won’t insist people wear masks as a safety measure. They permit all kinds of chemicals and endless fossil fuel emissions to permeate the air we all breathe, but understate the importance of a vaccine.

At the same time, they’ll encourage the use of an unapproved mostly-for-animals medication. Not just for themselves, which would be fine with me, but for others who will take their medical advice because they almost certainly know more than medical personnel and other scientists, don’t they?

Sometimes I wish they’d just leave things alone when they don’t know what they’re talking about, don’t you?

And while they’re at it, getting rid of the time change would be nice, too.

Have a great week. Stay safe. Be nice to somebody.