Saturday, July 31, 2021

This 'n' That by Liz Flaherty

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Gathering

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

I love woodpeckers. 

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

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

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

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody. 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Where Everybody Knows Your Name by Liz Flaherty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Stronger than we seem... by Liz Flaherty

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

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

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

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

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


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

Borrowed with thanks from

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

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

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

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

Painting by Sarah Luginbill

Friday, July 9, 2021

Ice Cream Social

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

Saturday, July 3, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.