Wednesday, November 30, 2022

WHY? by Judith Jerints Palmer

It all started, I suppose, before I was born.

My mother, age 15, married a man, age 31, who adored her. Three years later they had a son; he lived only two days due to problems during birth. In 1936 there was little or perhaps nothing that could have been done.

Two years later, they had another son; he lived four months, due to gangrene setting in after surgery to correct a bowel obstruction. In 1938 that was what was likely to happen.

Would you expect a young couple who had buried two infants to try again? Well, they did, and in 1941 I was born—9 lbs. and healthy. Over the next months I developed eating problems, especially reactions to cow’s milk. Otherwise, I was a fairly normal healthy kid.

Why did I survive, when the others didn’t?

* * * * *

Over the years I survived many events that today are considered traumatic for a child: my parents’ divorce—moving from town to country to city, back to town, each move taking place every summer for several years—finally high school all in one school, in my home town, all four years, though I knew very few of the kids I’d been in school with years before.

During high school—my mother’s long illness and then death from cancer—not allowed to mourn her in accepted ways—our house destroyed by fire (no one at home, and I was living with my father in another town)--working hard to achieve perfect grades so I’d earn a scholarship to college (my father’s goal for me).

College—three years of difficult classes—getting married—moving to another state so my husband could earn his Master’s Degree—having three children in three years—then a fourth child three years after we were settled in a city. No more tuition to pay. Regular pay check. Finally finishing my college degrees.

Why did I go through all that, sometimes so exhausted I don’t know how I could read or think? Why did I survive it?

* * * * *

We’ll fast forward through a few decades. My marriage disintegrated. I worked at a job I loved at first, then didn’t, but stayed with it so I could “afford” to retire eventually. In 1995 I was diagnosed with cancer—same kind as my mother’s—and had surgery in a hospital nearly 200 miles from my home. A new kind of surgery, pioneered by my surgeon. No chemo, no radiation. Just surgery.

That was 27 years ago. Why did I survive, when others haven’t? Why did I escape the effects of chemo and radiation that have left many women weak and damaged?

* * * * *

Currently I am dealing with heart disease (family hand-me-down from both sides), vision difficulties, loss of energy, and a tendency to pulmonary problems. I have excellent doctors. My general health is good. I’m able to do everything I like to do—read, write, paint, sew, have an occasional lunch with a friend. I have a daughter living with me so I’m not alone during a time when parts of my life seem to falter.

Why, I ask—why am I here?

Why did I survive all the stuff I survived?

What is my purpose in life at this point?

* * * * *

This essay has no answers. I still don’t know, many years later, why I’m here. I pray about it. I read devotional materials and watch worship services online (COVID is still around) for inspiration and support. I continue to write my stories and make quilts from time to time; I paint a lot to express myself without words. Sometimes I read, but not so much now that I have eye problems. So, no, I can’t give you any answers. Can’t even dredge up any for myself.

The best I can offer is thanksgiving for blessings bestowed. We’re in a “season of thanksgiving,” when many folks write about what they’re grateful for in their lives. I’m grateful, too, but I still have that nagging question—why?

I leave the answer to “why” for others.

* * * * *

An Afterthought

If we were to meet, you and I, at a local venue for coffee and music and art, maybe listening to the Three Old Guys down in Miami County . . . you would probably never guess I have the above ideas and concerns rumbling around in my life. I’m living a life I enjoy. It’s not an act. Maybe the best way I can describe it is to say I’ve gained a sort of peace with the way my life has been and how it has come out all these years later. The question of “why” will probably always be with me. Not a burden. Just a fact.

* * * * *

I'm so happy to welcome Judith to the Window. We've been friends since sometime late in the last century when Jenni Licata gathered and formed a group of romantic fiction readers, writers, and thinkers. That group has scattered over the years, as have our interests, but the friendships...well, they're kind of still there. Judith has a blog called Thursday's Child that makes you think, makes you smile, and gives you a good read every Thursday. Stop by and visit! - Liz

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The Early Christmas Stranger by Cheryl Reavis

"...She was my family's slightly early Christmas Stranger. She arrived on our doorstep on Christmas Eve eve many years ago, and I can no longer remember her name. It was cold and dark. My mother was sewing my angel robe for the Christmas pageant, and my little sister was a baby. The pounding on our front door was so abrupt and urgent that I was afraid for my father to open it, and even more afraid of the young girl who ducked under his arm and rushed inside when he did. She was barefoot -- and clearly in distress.

She lived in Charlotte, she was eventually able to say, and she was on her way to a party her father had forbidden her to attend, something she regretted even before the partygoers had become too drunk to drive and had lost control of the car they were in and ended up in a ditch. They managed to get the car out, but they had driven off and left her there in the dark.

She had no money. No way to get home. No shoes. My mother searched her closet to find some shoes for her -- gray suede penny loafers that were a couple of sizes too big. Getting her home was a little more difficult. We all piled into the car and took her to the bus station in nearby Salisbury. I remember how strange I felt, wearing my winter coat over my flannel, nursery-rhyme print nightgown. I didn't get to go to town at night very often, and at that time of year it was dazzling with Christmas lights, the kind you don't see anymore. Everything was so beautiful -- a real treat despite the strange young girl in the car who was still trying not to cry.

My father bought her a bus ticket to Charlotte -- which literally took all the money he had -- and he insisted that we would wait with her and make sure she got onto the bus all right. It seemed to take forever for the bus to arrive, but eventually it came. She got on it, and that was that. We never saw her again, never heard from her. But I always think of her this time of year and wonder what happened to her and whether she ever thinks of us in return...."

I’ve also included my late SIL’s legacy recipe for Lemon Fruit Cake in case you need a Family Christmas Tradition to round things out. One should not let the words “Fruit Cake” throw one—it really is good. - Cheryl Reavis


1 pound butter

6 eggs at room temperature

2 and 1/3 cups of sugar

3 ounces of pure lemon extract ("pure" is underlined twice so I'm guessing it matters)

4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 and 1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

1/2 pound candied cherries (red)
1/4 pound candied cherries (green)
1/4 pound candied pineapple, diced
1/4 pound white raisins

4 cups of chopped nuts

Lightly flour fruit and nuts with a couple of tablespoons of additional flour.

Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar.

Add eggs one at a time and beat well.

Add lemon extract and beat well.

Mix dry ingredients together.

Beat it into creamed mix a little at a time.

Fold in candied fruit and nuts.

Pour into 10" greased and floured tube pan.

Bake at 300 degrees for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours or until cake tests done.

"She was young. He was going off to a war she hated. But now, the past won’t stay buried, and the regrets won’t die. It’s true what they say. Old sins do cast long shadows."

THE FIRST BOY I LOVED is truly my “book of the heart.” Let me take you to a foreign land. Let me tell you a love story….

THE FIRST BOY I LOVED, available in all formats at online bookstores. (Don't have a Kindle? You can download the free Kindle app from the Amazon website to any device you have: phone, tablet, desktop, laptop.)

Cheryl Reavis is a former public health nurse and an award-winning published author of short stories and book-length contemporary and historical fiction. Her short stories have appeared in a number of “little magazines” such as THE CRESCENT REVIEW, SANSKRIT, THE BAD APPLE, THE EMRYS JOURNAL, and the Greensboro Group’s statewide competition anthology, WRITER’S CHOICE. Her contemporary romance novel, A CRIME OF THE HEART, won the coveted Romance Writers of America RITA Award for Best Short Contemporary Romance the year it was published and reached millions of readers in GOOD HOUSEKEEPING Magazine. She has won the RITA Award four times and is a four-time RITA finalist. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY described her contemporary women’s fiction novel, PROMISE ME A RAINBOW, as “…an example of delicately crafted, eminently satisfying romantic fiction….” In 2018, her novel, THE MARINE, won the EPIC eBook Award for Best Contemporary Fiction.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Getting into the Christmas Spirit by Cathy Shouse

My mother always made Christmas time feel special. When she hosted extended family gatherings, she would get out her festive tablecloths and use patterned china. Her big, plastic, lit-up Santa on the porch managed to look classy, and she placed her Christmas tree skirt so it caught your eye. Plus, she perfectly pressed dozens of those little green wreath cookies every year. Yet there was a light-hearted way she did things, so you never felt she was pressured about any of it.

Mom would get together with one of my aunts and make peanut brittle, and they’d laugh and chat as they worked. She seemed to enjoy it all and I try to follow her example. Although she’s gone now, if I want to get into the Christmas mood, I can simply channel Mom’s Christmas spirit.

Mom was always learning, and a true homemaker. If she took a ceramics class, she’d bring home a tree she’d made, to add to her Christmas décor. And probably four more so my sister and I had one, and mom’s sisters did too. Her knitted afghans were sturdy and warm to wrap in, but she also knitted little snowmen that stretched around Styrofoam balls and wore jaunty scarves and hats in bright red and green.

When I was first married and setting up housekeeping, Mom and I would go on shopping trips to find things for the newlywed apartment I had with my husband. Always pinching pennies, I looked for “designer” items at Kmart. One year, I bought a Martha Stewart comforter and matching bedding.

Martha Stewart intrigued me and I think Mom was one reason why. Martha was all about making a house a home. Sure, she might overdo it sometimes, with desserts that had ingredient lists longer than a shopping list for a state dinner. But I couldn’t wait to check out Martha Stewart Living magazine at the library and study every page. She might put a string of twinkle lights into a glass bowl, or position a candle a certain way, providing ideas for my own holiday touches.

One year, Martha designed a Christmas wreath for Kmart that I couldn’t resist, and still pull out every year. Her lacey curtain panels hung all around my house, and although my tastes have changed, I couldn’t part with them.

Martha might have had more money, and gone overboard on occasion, but her heart was in the right place, just as Mom’s was. I liked to think so, anyway. Martha loved her cake plates and so did Mom. When bringing snickerdoodles to a family gathering, I’d arrange them on a vintage glass cake plate my mom had given me.

Recently, while in Las Vegas for a conference, Martha’s image on a digital sign in the hotel brought her to mind. Three months earlier, she had opened her first restaurant, The Bedford, named after her farm located in Bedford, in upstate New York. (Supposedly, she’s near the fictional location where the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, was set.)

I felt as though I won the homemakers’ lottery when there was an opening for two reservations at 6:30 p.m. that night. The restaurant offered four kinds of pasta, starting at $28 a plate, about what I paid for that comforter all those years ago.

When a friend and I were seated in Martha’s restaurant within view of shiny copper pots hanging from the ceiling--like they do in Martha’s own kitchen--I felt a thrill. Gone was the memory of acorn squashes that I scraped out for candle molds, inspired by Martha Stewart Living--the only real craft of hers I ever made. (Once was enough.) In her dining room, I splurged on the salmon en croûte for $35. We discarded the idea of sharing the whole roast chicken for $89, rated the best ever by reviewers. It was pricey and we couldn’t bring home a doggie bag due to our early flights out.

Martha did not walk in at any point, as I had secretly hoped. But she was there in the pine tree decorations with the flocking that were everywhere. And then there were the wreaths, all the wreaths everywhere that resembled mine, at least a little bit. I saw her in the cabinets with their glass doors so we could view all of those cake plates.

The shiny rows of cake plates reminded me of when Martha went on Oprah’s show and brought her a piece of chocolate cake--on a fancy glass plate, of course. Martha claimed she had made the cake herself, and Oprah ate it on-air. Watching Oprah savor the sweet goodness was almost as satisfying as tasting it myself, or so I thought at the time.

We skipped the Upside-Down Lemon Meringue pie with whipped cream. The woman at a table next to ours pointed hers out to us, saying it was wonderful ($15.95 per slice). Don’t you love an upscale restaurant where the other diners talk to you? The Bedford was the furthest thing from stuffy, and downright cozy. That’s what I treasured most about the experience, the surprisingly down-to-earth elegance.

In the end, I had to agree with this excerpt from a review in the New York Times. “As one Twitter user wrote, ‘If you’re not trying to go to The Bedford by Martha Stewart with me don’t even talk to me.’”

Those were my thoughts exactly. Somehow, I think Mom would have approved.

All she’s ever wanted was another baby and he’s got two that landed unexpectedly in his life. He’s wounded by a bad break-up with someone only interested in his money.

Single Mom Annie York and eight-year-old Chloe live above the diner, where she works for her cousin. She’s given up on finding love and is hiding a secret. She’s a subpar housekeeper, in the extreme. When Annie has a surprise reunion with Caleb Galloway from high school, they must join forces to care for his sister’s twin babies.

He’s a guy with everything in its place. She has no idea where anything is. But seeing Annie with his niece and nephew has him wondering whether he belongs right next to her.


Annie held her breath, turned the knob to let them in, and swung the door open. “Ta-da,” was all she could think to say.

Caleb’s eyes widened. His jaw dropped. She’d seen that reaction before and it was the reason she didn’t have people over. He appeared to arrange his face into a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “Maybe a dump truck to go along with that shovel?”

She let out a shaky breath. Two bowls with dribbles of milk and the cereal box sat on the large kitchen table, among papers strewn all over its surface. Chloe’s pajama bottoms were on the back of one chair and Annie’s T-shirt and jeans from last night’s practice were draped on the sofa.

Annie sprinted in, grabbed her sports bra that was snagged over a lampshade, and tucked it under a sofa seat cushion. More discarded clothes covered her one upholstered, yard-sale chair.

“To be honest, I used to kind of beat myself up about this…I mean, sure, I really wish things were neater right now. Who wouldn’t? But part of me sees some advantages to being impulsive. Spontaneity is good sometimes. She looked at Drew and then Ella, who wouldn’t be here with two adults caring for them if Annie hadn’t acted on impulse. “So I’ve gotta take the good with the bad. And sometimes I can’t tell the difference myself. I’ve accepted that I’d rather be flexible and messy than rigid and neat.”

She did a one-arm sweep with the papers layering the table, sliding them into a nearby chair. Then she gestured for Caleb to set the babies in their car seats down on the cleared table.

“So that’s what people mean by ‘there’s a fine line between a weakness and a strength,’ huh?” he asked

He had listened to her, really heard her. There was something really attractive about a man who paid attention.

“That’s exactly my point.” She was talking too much but couldn’t stop, like her life depended on him understanding.


Cathy Shouse writes inspirational cowboy romances. Her Fair Creek series, set in Indiana, features the Galloway brothers of Galloway Farms. Much like the characters in her stories, Cathy once lived on a farm in “small town” Indiana, where she first fell in love with cowboys while visiting the rodeo every summer. Please visit for more information on discounts and new releases or to sign up for her newsletter.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Christmas Tree Memories by Curtiss Ann Matlock

When Liz invited me to write a holiday-centered post, my mind instantly began to fill with memories of our Christmas trees and my mother.

I grew up with live trees. Yes, I’m old enough to remember a time before artificial trees. And the trees when I was a child were naturally scrawny things, which Mama proceeded to over-load with decorations. Lights first, next the glass ball dating from my mother’s teen years (WWII), and then this little china Cupie-doll with no legs that Mama would tie all the way on the trunk of the tree. Then all manner of glass balls, and lastly, tinsel.

My mother had grown up in the thirties, and Christmas tree tinsel was in vogue. My memory brings up faded black and white photographs of Mama and little me in front of such a tree. No time to dig for the photograph, so I found one on the web. Our early family trees were not far from this one. Mama loved her tinsel.

Tinsel back then was shredded aluminum foil. It didn’t go sliding off the tree like the plastic stuff does today. Being a child of the depression, my mother was thrifty. She did not throw out tinsel, but saved as much as possible from year to year in a large battered box, which made it all the way to the late 1960s. You should have seen my future husband’s face when he saw that box of mashed up tinsel that would be reused on the tree.

In the seventies, my mother moved up to modern times and what was all the rage—an artificial aluminum tree. Yes, you guessed it—she put tinsel on an aluminum tree.

The first year my husband and I celebrated Christmas in our own little apartment, I determined that I was not going to have a cheap, scrawny tree. By then Scotch Pine was in vogue, and by golly, I was having one. My dear husband left the choosing up to me, and we came home with a tree so full that ornaments did not hang but stuck out in the air. My husband did draw the line with tinsel, though. He made me hang each strand of tinsel separately, and not too much. Over the next days, whenever he went to work, I added a bit of it here and there.

I would buy tinsel each season to have for the next year, but then came the year I had run out. I could not find tinsel anywhere; it had become obsolete. I was sorely disappointed. The following year, readers alerted me that a drugstore was selling tinsel. I was excited, however, much less so when I found it was plastic. The old aluminum tinsel had become a thing of the past.

The one thing that has not and never will change is the spirit behind it all, which is love. It is love that gave us Christmas. It is love that has for centuries now propelled us into this yearly craziness of putting a tree in the middle of the house (sometimes tied to the wall to keep the cat from knocking it over.) and indulging in a fine example of self-forgetfulness with gift buying and giving, cooking and gathering. It is all for love. May you enjoy it to the full, and carry it with you into the coming year.

Curtiss Ann Matlock is an American writer of thirty-six novels, three of which are Christmas stories. She resides in south Alabama, where she is busy with family, writing, gardening, and RVing. You can connect with her at her website:

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Christmas Cookie Day by Tanya Agler

Merry Christmas! Thank you so much to Liz Flaherty for hosting me today on “Window Over the Sink,” especially since the posts in the next few weeks are all devoted to one of my favorite holidays: Christmas!

A long time ago, although in many ways it seems like yesterday, I attended the University of Georgia. One Sunday night, I debated whether to keep studying for a test the next day or go to a Christmas party. My four children are very glad I decided I was ready for the test and went to the party. When I arrived, the host brought everyone together in the living room for a Christmas Carol sing-along. There was one seat remaining, and I asked the guy who was sitting beside the empty chair if he was saving it for anyone. He wasn’t, and we started talking, through the sing-along, through refreshments, and until the party ended.

Soon thereafter, we discovered our homes away from the college dorms were only ten miles apart. Over the Christmas break, he called and asked me on a date. When he arrived at my house, he was taken by surprise as both my parents and grandparents, who’d come to visit for Christmas, barraged him with a series of questions. Since I was ready, I whisked him away to his car, and we talked through dinner.

Then it was my turn to meet his parents and siblings, and it was my turn to be amazed. Every room in his house was decorated for Christmas. Even the bathrooms had holiday hand towels and matching soap dishes along with snowmen figurines. I’d never seen so many decorations in one place. That day, his mother graciously asked if I would like to come to Cookie Day. While I didn’t know at the time it would be the first of many, I was thrilled at the kind offer and jumped at the chance.

Early one December Saturday morning, I arrived at their house, thinking it would be a half-hour of fun and then Jamie and I would have the rest of the day to go Christmas shopping or do some other holiday activity before he went to work that night at his part-time job. I walked in and found different stations: one person rolled out the dough, another cut the shapes selecting from a huge assortment of cookie cutters, another swapped out baked cookies hot from the oven for a fresh sheet, and the rest decorated cookies, cool enough to frost, with icing and a variety of sprinkles, red-hot candies, and colored sugar. The night before, his mother had mixed four batches of dough and refrigerated them.

After a lunch break, we all finished icing the last batch of cookies. Jamie’s mother kept calling out, “Make some nice ones for the neighbors.” In addition to the sugar cut-out cookies, the day before, she had made wedding cookies, peppermint bark, spritz cookies, and banana bread. The day after Cookie Day, she assembled packages of cookies and delivered them to neighbors, friends, co-workers, and anyone who needed a care package.

Rather than spending half an hour at his parents’ house, it was the whole day, and I left with a basket of cookies to take home to my parents and grandparents.

Over the years, I’ve become known as “the closer.” When everyone else is tired of decorating the cookies, I’m the one who finishes icing the remainder. We’ve branched out and added Grinches and Leg Lamps (my husband’s family loves A Christmas Story while I gravitate to It’s a Wonderful Life and Christmas in Connecticut) to the selection of stars, bells, and holly wreaths.

This year, we’re celebrating a new twist to our annual Cookie Day. My husband has invited his co-workers over, as many of them have never baked Christmas cookies before. We’re having a big party and then we’ll send them away with baskets of cookies and hopefully some fun memories.

So, from that party where I sat next to someone I didn’t know came an introduction to something new that ended up forming one of my holiday traditions. My four children love Cookie Day, and that’s one of their favorite days of the year. Let me know whether you are baking any cookies or pies for Christmas.

And my holiday wish for you is that I hope this Christmas you make a new friend or deliver a homemade treat to an old friend.

Merry Christmas!

An award-winning author, Tanya Agler makes her home in Georgia with her wonderful husband, their four children, and a lovable rescue beagle. She has written six novels for Harlequin Heartwarming with her seventh, Caught by the Cowgirl, coming in April of 2023. Her novella, Christmas Cookie Crossing, is featured in this year’s Christmas Town Bake-Off, an anthology of Christmas novellas written by seven Harlequin Heartwarming authors. When she’s not writing, Tanya loves classic movies, chocolate, and a good cup of tea. You can find her on Facebook at or on Goodreads at

A Christmas bargain…Becomes a promise of more.

Former pro soccer player and single mom Becks Porter finally owns her own soccer complex. But her Christmas dream becomes a blazing nightmare when the building literally goes up in flames—injuring her ex, firefighter Carlos Ramirez. Now Becks and Carlos must choose between old grudges and helping each other out. Sparks have a way of rekindling…but can two people start over without getting burned?

Friday, November 25, 2022

Now It Begins by Navi Vernon

Ah, Christmas. It's at our throats again. Yes, I know we’re gearing up for the big kick-off to the most joyous season of all. Yes, I hear the chorus of reminders that we should focus on Jesus as “the reason for the season.” Yes, I know it’s our big chance to be good humans, smile serenely, give generously, and clasp hands with random strangers as we sing peace, love, and understanding in perfect harmony. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Does it really work that way for you? If so, I am in awe. Maybe we could meet over coffee sometime so you can share your secrets. As for me, my dread of the frenzy between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day begins around Halloween. Before the little goblins even take off their masks, I sense its coming, the rush to shop, coordinate calendars, clean, prepare, smile. Each year I vow to have all plans and presents in place long before the next year’s H O L I D A Y S. Each year, I fail miserably, scrambling at the last minute to gather wish lists and beseech my old buddy Amazon to come to the rescue. Again.

As a kid, Christmas was simple and magical. The anticipation was excruciating, but in that giddy, can’t-wait kind of way. It seemed like every minute from decorations up to decorations down was filled with trips to grandparents, cousins, candy, late bedtimes, and animated specials on TV. My record player stayed stacked with 45s on repeat from Burl Ives, Brenda Lee, and The Chipmunks. A shiny aluminum tree graced the corner of our living room. Even without the fancy rotating colored light wheel like the one my aunt and uncle had, it looked pretty fine with all the ornaments in place. I can still smell the cedar box that held my favorites—the dazzling trio of silver, gold, and bronze stars.

Christmas was still magical when our kids were little. There’s nothing like seeing Christmas through the eyes a child, is there? Wonder and delight at every turn. Giggles and hot chocolate. New flannel pajamas and a bedtime story.

Somewhere along the line, Santa’s sleigh bells began to dim a bit. Of course, grandkids still make Christmas special. I’d be a total Scrooge if I couldn’t see that. But, I don’t put as much effort into gift buying anymore. It seems like everyone already has so much. We all do. Maybe that’s part of the problem. We don’t need more things, we just need each other. Time is so much more important.

Holidays trigger depression in many people. Others may be facing the first holidays after a profound loss. Reach out. Be kind. Be patient. Show grace. Make a seat at the table. Let them talk. Listen as they share their memories. It will help them, immeasurably, and it will make you appreciate what you have right this minute.

In fact, now that I think about it, I have nothing to complain about. I am surrounded by love. The dread comes from the stress to make it all perfect. Note to self: Forget Perfect. Enjoy the moment, flawed though it may be.

Next year, we won’t buy gifts just to check them off a list. We’ll make an intentional plan and spend more time than money. Next year.

For now though, I’m pulling out the first Christmas box because I just remembered that one of the grandkids got me a new Santa last year! It needs to go in a place of honor. Oh my gosh! The littles will be here on Wednesday. They can help decorate the tree! Life is good. Even in the midst of chaos. Merry Christmas, you all. May every one of your Santas bring you joy.

Navi Vernon is a charter member of Black Dog Writers at Black Dog Coffee in  Logansport, Indiana. She speaks with a gentle, loving, and knowing voice. I'm so grateful to her for sharing it with us today. To find other essays by Navi, visit her blog. You won't be sorry you did

Thursday, November 24, 2022

We Gather Together... by Liz Flaherty

Good Thanksgiving morning! 

As I said Saturday, the Window is going to be open with a new post every day between now and New Year's Eve. Some of my favorite people will be here to talk, mostly about the holidays. Some of the posts will be funny and some poignant. I hope you come every day and that you enjoy them all. I hope you comment, too--that is like a little gift to the writer every time it happens. 

I'll be back on Saturdays after the first of the year. Save my place for me, okay?

My latest book The Summer of Sorrow and Dance, is out in paperback now. I'm probably more excited about that than is reasonable, but you've seen me that way before, right? I don't have author copies yet, but will soon. Until then, the book is available on Amazon at the link above.

I'm wishing you the happiest holiday season ever. I hope you get family time, friends time, and moments of pleasure that scatter like starlight to fill your days. I hope you "gather together," as the hymn says. 

Navi Vernon will open the Window tomorrow to kick off our Window Holiday Celebrations. Thank you for joining us!

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.

Monday, November 21, 2022

His Candy Christmas by Darlene Fredette

His Candy Christmas is a Redford Falls Story, Book 1, by Darlene Fredette, from the Wild Rose Press.

Original Publication: 2013 - One Sweet Christmas

It’s going to take more than a few pieces of chocolate to fill this Scrooge’s heart with Christmas cheer. Luckily Candy has a whole shop full.

Who knew returning home would contain a cool nip in the air, irresistible chocolate, and a Santa suit?

Candice Cane is not proud of the way she acted after her last encounter with Jackson Frost. Sure revenge was fun, but now Jackson is angry and looking for answers, and standing on the welcome mat in her chocolate shop. Now he's after some revenge of his own.

Jackson returned to his small hometown for one reason and one reason only. So, he's not sure how he ended up in a Santa suit in the middle of a chocolate shop, at the behest of its beautiful owner, instead of high-tailing it back to the city as fast as he can.


She tapped the pen against her chin. Yes, this plan could work.

“Why the hesitation? I thought you’d be just as eager to end our marriage.”

Not just yet. Candy had a problem and Jackson was her solution. “You need a divorce, I need a Santa.”

“What?” He raised an eyebrow.

She flashed a sinister smile and winked, pointing to the clothing bag hanging from a hook on the wall. A Santa hat peeked from the open zipper. “Give me your best ho ho ho.”

“ way!” Jackson stepped back, colliding with the wall. “If you think I’m going to dress up as Santa, you’re out of your mind!”

“No Santa, no divorce.” Candy flicked the pen through the air and it clattered onto the table.

Buy link:

About Darlene Fredette

Darlene resides on the Atlantic Coast of Canada where the summers are too short and the winters are too long. An avid reader since childhood, Darlene loved to develop the many stories coming to life in her head. She writes contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners. When not working on her next book, she can be found with her husband, her daughter, and her yellow Labrador. Darlene’s favourite pastime is taking summer day-trips to the Valley to soak in the small-town feel.

Author Web Site:


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[His Candy Christmas] “I loved it! Would I recommend this Christmas novella? Definitely! Get cosy in your favourite chair with a warm cuppa and this novella!” ~ Sandra Jeanz Book Reviews

[His Candy Christmas] “This novella is truly a very sweet Christmas Story. I read it in one sitting and immediately fell in love with Candice Cane.” ~ Amy’s Reviews

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Colds, Cats, and Welcome Holidays by Liz Flaherty

Good morning! I'm not feeling well right now--only a cold, but I haven't had one in quite some time and I am whining up a storm. Which doesn't help, in case anyone wants to try it. Save the limited breath allowed by having a cold for complaining about other things. It's cold this morning, for one thing. 

I also had a laugh this morning already. Our cats live on our front porch. They have a nice house there, a watering thingy, and that's where we feed them. They get dry food in the morning and wet food in the evening, with an occasional snack in between. They are fairly old and grumpy and set in their ways--not unlike the people they own--and they only like certain foods. They want pate, for one thing, not shreds or chunks that actually look like food. The worse it looks coming out of the can, the better. 

They also, I assume because their teeth are as old as they are, have become discriminating in their dry food choices. They only want the stuff that has tender centers. Which I can't always find. When I can't, then I get them a small bag of something else. I hide the label and everything, but they know. They know. 

So, this morning, when I already feel like hammered sh...well, feel pretty crummy, I couldn't get the front door open to feed them because--did I mention it was cold? Yeah, the storm door was frozen shut. So I took their food around to the front porch, mincing my way through the snow on the grass because I'm afraid of falling, and poured an extra-generous portion of dry food onto their plate. They fell on it like starving lemmings. I petted them and left them to their breakfast. 

However, when I walked back around to the back door, they followed me. All three of them, with accusation in every step. I looked over my shoulder, told them to go clean their plate, and hurried into the house without meeting their eyes. 

Seriously. I couldn't meet their eyes because I knew I'd disappointed them. My kids are probably wondering where this sensitive person was while they were growing up. 

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you and your families and friends have a wonderful holiday. And, speaking of holidays...

This year, for the first time ever, the Window Over the Sink is going to open every

day between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve with holiday posts. I hope you'll stop in every day and make the visitors welcome. There will be old favorites--Debby, Joe, and Charley will be here--plus a host of writer friends. I am kind of excited about it. 

Have a great week and a great Thanksgiving. Even from my position of leaned back in the recliner more often than not, I'm eager for the season we're entering. For the fun and decorations and sharing and food. Oh, yes, food. Let us be joyful. 

Be nice to somebody. 


Saturday, November 12, 2022

The Poppies Still Grow by Liz Flaherty

I've been writing pieces of this for...I don't know...years. It was only a year ago when I posted it last. I'm sorry to do a rerun so quickly, but not really sorry at all because I offer it up again with thanks to those who have served and who still bear the scars from that service. And with thanks to those who are serving now. 

Although I often say righteously that I try not to make things political, I am stepping away from that claim to remind everyone that Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who has blocked hundreds of military promotions since March in a long tantrum over how he feels about women's rights, never served. 


 The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

A few years back, the fifth graders at my grandson’s school performed their annual Veterans Day salute. They sang and shook hands with veterans in the audience. There was a long slide show of pictures of mothers and fathers and grandfathers and other relatives who had served in the armed forces. I thought my eyes would never get dry. After watching the program, I tried to put into words how I feel, how proud and grateful I am that so many have served so long and so well.

Except I didn’t have any new words, though my eyes are leaking again as I write this introduction to a tribute I still feel.

John Thomas and Amos Ash were residents of Miami County, Indiana. They fought with the 20th Regiment of Indiana. They died at Gettysburg in 1863.

Uncle Mart was ten years older than Aunt Ethel. They were married forever, but they never had any children. That always seemed odd to me, but it really wasn’t. They adored each other and never needed anyone else; they were a complete family unit unto themselves. He was bald and funny and liked to fish. He served in the first World War. The Big One, some people said.

I don’t remember what his name was, but he and his parents were visiting my family when something happened and they had to return to their South Bend home at once because he had to catch the next train back to his duty station. The day was December 7, 1941, long before I was born, but I still remember the empty look on Mom’s face when she told the story.

Thadd was a baker in the navy during that war, the second of the World Wars. The one
more people called The Big One. A couple of years after he came home, Thadd and Mary got married and they had five kids.

His name was Wayne. I was at his going-away party before he left for Vietnam. He was young and smart and eager to serve his country. There was a girl at the party who looked at him with soft eyes. We laughed a lot, had a good time, and wished him luck when we left. We were used to it, I suppose, to saying goodbye and hoping for the chance to say hello when they came back home, so we didn’t give it that much thought.

Wayne, though, and Mike Waymire and John Miller, to name but a few, came home in flag-draped coffins. We watched the news, read the papers, wept. We remembered smooth-faced, laughing boys and mourned with the wives and girlfriends and mothers who would never feel the same again, with fathers silent and stoic in their grief. We acknowledged empty places and heard remembered laughter and voices echo through them.

I married the second of Thadd and Mary’s kids after he came home from Vietnam. Like the Korean Conflict, no one ever called it The Big War, but to the ones who served there, and the ones who waited at home, they were big enough. Long enough. Sad enough.

When Desert Storm happened our son Chris was stateside, wearing the army uniform his father had.

We watched and waited and feared and prayed. It was the same with Iraq. With Afghanistan. With all the other wars and conflicts and skirmishes where Americans have served.
My grandson Skyler is 18, a senior in high school. He spent the summer in basic training. He's our handsome, sweet boy and even though he wears a uniform well, it makes my heart clutch seeing him in it. He has walked and talked and breathed military since he was eight years old so I shouldn't have been surprised when he was ready to enlist, but I wasn't ready for it. He wants to serve and I want to make him cookies--I suppose it is the same with all young military men and their mothers and grandmothers.

In October of 2010, the city of Logansport, Indiana welcomed Sgt. Kenneth K. McAnich home. The hearse drove slow and solemn through streets lined with flags and people, the Patriot Guard riding protective escort against those who might not be respectful. It’s symbolic, this ceremonial farewell we offer our fallen warriors. I’m sure it does little to fill the echoing empty places created by their deaths. But it’s all we can do.

My husband remembers how people looked at him in airports when he came home from Vietnam. How they sneered and then looked away. I saw the same thing in Indianapolis, when among the celebratory crowds coming home at Christmastime walked a lone soldier, carrying his duffel bag and staring straight ahead. Over forty years later, those who served in Vietnam know it wasn’t them people hated; it was the war. But they still remember.

We all hate war. All of us. Thank goodness we’ve learned how to welcome home those who fight in them. We’ve learned to applaud them in airports and on planes, to buy their lunch once in a while if they’re behind us at the cashier’s station, to say thank you and mean it. 

That’s why November 11 is Veterans Day. It is not a day of celebration, although rejoicing in freedom is probably never wrong. It is instead a day of remembrance and honor to the men and women who have for nearly 240 years and who continue to serve in the preservation of that freedom. Thank you to all of you. God bless you. God bless America.

Have a good week.  Be nice to somebody. 

Saturday, November 5, 2022

1993 to 2022 - some things stay the same...

I apologize. Again. Saturday morning slipped up on me and I don't have time to write a new one, so I hope you don't mind having this again. This is from sometime in 1993 and was repeated in 2017. The green carpet's long gone. A flower bed is where the hydrant used to be. Chris's feet eventually stopped growing. There are things I wrote back then that I look at and say, "What was I thinking?" But then there are others like this one, when I actually got it right. Thanks for stopping by. Don't sweat the grape juice.

Close your eyes
Listen to the skies
All is calm, all is well
- Roger Miller

There's this spot in our back yard near the porch. It's a rectangle, about four feet by ten feet or so. The grass grows really thick and nice there, probably because the hydrant, with the garden hose hanging from it, is there, too, and our garden hoses always leak.

It didn't used to look like that. It used to be all dirt--or mud, depending on if anyone was using the hose--and littered with Tonka trucks and little green army men and Weebles and Fisher-Price people. There was usually a filthy little boy sitting in the middle of it. It drove me crazy.

So now there's no more mud, and the filthy little boy is 19 and in college and a lot bigger than I am. Like I said, the grass grows thick and nice there.

I hate it.

Several years back, some of my in-laws were coming for a weekend visit. They were coming on Saturday morning. Well, there was a basketball game on Friday night and my husband and I both had to work Saturday morning. To make a long story short, the house was a disaster from top to bottom and there was no time to clean it. So I cringed and worried and left a note for my kids when I left for work on Saturday morning. "Please," I wrote, "just mow a path through the living room."

As kids often do, they surprised me. When I got home, you could smell the Pine-Sol from the back yard. They gave me a guided tour of all they'd done.

"We swept and dusted and made beds," they said, gesturing at all the splendor. "Here are the dishes done, the stove wiped off, the grape juices spilled on the carpet, all the newspapers picked up."

Grape juice on the carpet? I picked up on that right away. Sure enough, right in the middle of the doorway between the kitchen and living room was a splattery purplespot on the green carpet. It was not, need I tell you, a pretty combination.

"Oh, well, get me a rag," I said. "It's a new stain. It'll come up."

"No, Mom. We tried."

"You just need to use a little elbow grease," I argued.

"It won't come up, Mom."

It wouldn't.

Until we cut that carpet away last year to enlarge the kitchen, we had a purple-on-green spot that leaped out at me as soon as I entered the room. I noticed it every time and it never bothered me the least bit. Because when I saw the purple spot, I remembered how hard the kids had worked that morning.

It more than equaled out.

The first time our older son went to basketball camp, since his feet were growing
at the rate of a full size every couple of days--at least, that's what it seemed like--I bought him a new pair of basketball shoes. They were really, really cheap, but they looked just like the ones that cost a whole lot. With what camp cost, I explained to Chris, there was no way we could buy expensive shoes, too. No problem, he lied. When he came home a week later, his feet were raw and bleeding where they had blistered and re-blistered.

A few years later, I was bemoaning our financial status when Chris walked through the room wearing his basketball shoes, ones that had cost that "whole lot" I mentioned above. Duane pointed at his feet. "There it goes," he said. "Do you really mind that?"

Well, no. No, I didn't mind.

When your kids grow up, which they do really fast no matter how you try to slow the process, sometimes people express envy that you have your child-raising days behind you. If only for the purpose of making you feel wise, they ask for your advice. You try to abstain from giving that advice, because no two children are alike, so you can't treat them as if they are.

But I can say this much. Buy them good shoes so they'll grow straight and sturdy. Let them play in mud so they'll learn about building up and tearing down. And most of all, whatever you do, don't sweat the grape juice.

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.