Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Bob Bryan: The Myth, The Legend, The Writer by Debby Myers

There are people in your life you meet and size up. They make an impression from your first interaction. Often, it turns out to be completely wrong!
I met Bob Bryan 20 years ago in 2003 when I went to see Driving Miss Daisy at Ole Olsen Memorial Theater. I’d been involved with the theater for five years, but I’d not been introduced to Bob. I didn’t like him.

Seven years would go by before we’d cross paths again. I was holding auditions for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which required 13 men. It was a steep hill to climb, but actors flocked to the depot to acquire one of these coveted roles.

Bob was one of them. Long story short, he got the part of Scanlon, a patient who was admitted to the asylum because he wanted to blow things up. Bob had few lines, but he was on stage nearly every scene, and his facial expressions and grumbling were what the part needed.

However, Bob and I began to disagree about what he was doing and when. My first impression was right. It became difficult for us to work together. He was openly vocal and stubborn, trying to bully me into having his way. When the show wrapped, we were both relieved. I felt certain that we wouldn’t be doing another play together.

Much to my surprise (or dread), Bob came to auditions again for another of my shows. I once again needed men for Of Mice and Men. I gave him a small part, worried that we’d end up having the same problem. We did. Bob was distant and resigned to my direction, and the performances came and went with a strain between us.

Fast forward to a year later. I acted in Dixie Swim Club, and I was in the receiving line trying to avoid him, but he left without saying a word. I thought he was rude.

Our next interaction was when I was casting Drop Dead. I wasn’t going to give him a part! He auditioned and waited patiently for auditions to end. As he approached, I started to walk away when he stopped me. He said he’d been writing scripts, and he’d like to drop a couple off for me to read. As shocking as it was to me, I agreed.

As I read, I got insight into who Bob Bryan really was. He was a lonely soul. No spouse, no children. He lived alone in front of an old typewriter with a dream of writing a play worthy of the Ole stage. He’d spent years as a reporter for the Peru Tribune. When he left when they downsized, he spent his time writing at home. His scripts were witty and dark in their content, much like Bob himself. But in his mind and the body of those stories, plays did exist.

We began to email to talk about the show I was working on, or the latest script he was writing. We communicated better in writing than we had in person, and we both acknowledged that there were creative differences we would have to agree to disagree about when it came to our visions of directing.

Fast forward to last fall. Bob went to the Ole Board of Directors and submitted a play he’d written, The Ballad of Granny Siler. The board approved it as the last show of the season. Bob also put on two extra shows under the umbrella of the group he’d formed "No Frills Theater."

Bob asked me to help with his show The End. He’d cast my granddaughter and his assistant had health concerns. I agreed. A couple of weeks in Bob had health concerns of his own. He was weak, forgetful, grumpy, and tired easily. Evening rehearsals made it hard for him to stay the full two hours and he’d leave early. Finally, he stopped coming at all. After encouragement from me and friends, he went to the doctor, but didn’t get a diagnosis.

He began to feel better and was at all the performances. He thanked me for helping and asked me to help him cast The Ballad of Granny Siler a month later. The turnout wasn’t what we hoped for. Ole Olsen no longer has a pool of actors to choose from. And he wanted me to help him direct this play, and because my husband had been cast, I again agreed.

Jumping ahead to today. I’m now directing the show without its writer/director, Bob Bryan. He went in the hospital for several days before rehearsals began, and he finally got a diagnosis. Congestive heart failure. It wasn’t what any of us hoped for. It was then that Bob turned the show completely over to me. I’ve continued to communicate with him about casting changes I’ve made and rewrites I’ve added. Like always, he voiced his opinion. He doesn’t agree with all of them. He wouldn’t be Bob if he did!

Bob was moved to Blair Ridge for therapy after he left the hospital. He’ll move into assisted living there soon. He’s on oxygen, but getting stronger. So is his Ballad. We open the show tomorrow night, and we are excited that Bob gets to be there opening night!

A man I didn’t like working with and obviously didn’t know has become a man I think of and worry about daily. Now I feel like his dream is in my hands. At 83, he still hasn’t abandoned the idea that he may direct another of his plays. He’s also inspired me to begin writing a script of my own.

The moral of this story is two-fold. Your first impression doesn’t have to be your last. And you can turn someone you dislike and despise into someone you love and learn to accept for who they are.

Please put Bob in your prayers. Lift up my cast to put on a show he can say fulfilled his dream and brought his Ballad to life.


Debby Myers has enjoyed writing since she was a little girl. She has just completed her third novel, the last installment of “The Vee Trilogy.”

In her spare time she directs plays for Ole Olsen Memorial Theater. She is a member of the Indiana Thespians judging high school theater competitions. Debby’s favorite pastime of all is spending time with her five grandchildren.

Her books are all available now on Amazon or get a signed copy directly from her by contacting her on her Facebook page “The Vee Trilogy.” 

Monday, May 29, 2023

Band of Brothers by Cheryl Reavis

It is no secret that Cheryl Reavis, besides being a RITA award winner--four times--and a nominee several others, is one of my favorite writers. Like many from our generation, she has a soft spot for soldiers. What better time than Memorial Day to share that one of her best, Band of Brothers, is available for a limited time (June 1-15) for 99 cents. If you haven't read it before, don't miss this chance. If you have read it, go ahead and read it again--it'll be good for your heart. - Liz

Band of Brothers 

by Cheryl Reavis

Sergeant Joshua Caven: Josh finally has his shattered personal life in some kind of order—until Chris Young, the living, breathing reason his wife abandoned him and their baby, is assigned to his unit.

Corporal Danny Benton: He just wants to be the best Marine he can be and to come home and marry his girl. He has no reason to think she won’t wait for him—until the Dear John letter arrives.

Hospital Corpsman Chris Young: An encounter with local hostiles goes horribly wrong, and both he and Josh are wounded. The guilt is eating him up. Because Josh is in the hospital, fighting for his life—all because he saved Chris’s.


“I’m older than you are,” Emerald said for no reason whatsoever, as far as he could tell.

He frowned. “Where are we going with this?”

“Absolutely nowhere. I just wanted you to understand why.”

“Well, you might be older than I am in years, but not in living.”

“Afghanistan put some age on you, did it?”

He didn’t say anything until she reached for her purse.

“Yeah. That’s where I learned war wasn’t a video game.”

He stood up then and headed for the cash register at the end of the bar. Unfortunately, Cricket was manning it—not that the alternative would have been any better. At least one good thing had happened tonight. He now knew the Tiffany Boat had definitely sailed, and he didn’t give a rat’s ass that it had.

“What?” he said because Cricket was making no attempt to take the money he was holding out.

“You know you don’t have to pay, if you’re with Emerald.” There was just enough emphasis on the word “with.” Danny heard it, in spite of the music.

“Yeah, I do.” He shoved the money and the check at him, and this time Cricket took it.

“I think I know your old man.”


“Let me guess. He’s a regular.”

“He was. For a while.”

“Before he got banned, you mean.”

Cricket gave a small maybe-yes, maybe-no shrug. “You’re not planning on fooling around with Tiffany and Emerald both, are you? You’ve got a wide open field with Tiffany. I’m supposed to ask you if you’re going to call her.”

“Tiffany left my dog tied to a porch post and took off with another guy while I was deployed. What do you think?”

He didn’t expect Cricket to laugh, but he did. A throw-back-your-head-and-howl kind of laugh that turned heads all over the Humoresque.

“You’re all right, kid,” Cricket said, handing him his change. “Hey!” he called as Danny turned to go. “How’s the dog?”

“Fine. Emerald’s got him.”

* * *

“WHAT DID YOU DO to Cricket?’

“Nothing, why?”

“He laughed. Cricket never laughs.”

“Now there’s a surprise.”

“No, really. What?”

“He wanted to know if I was going to be fooling around with you and Tiffany both.”

“He what?”

“You heard me, Ms. Eades. I told him what Tiffany did to poor old Killer George, and he laughed.”

“He actually wanted to know if you were going to be fooling around with both of us?”

“He did.”

“And what did you say to that?”

“Well, I couldn’t say anything about you. Not until I know.”

“I know I’m going to regret asking, but know what?”

“If it’s all me and nothing from you.”

“That’s about the size of it.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. Because you don’t know for sure, either. Which is why I want to kiss you. Now.”


“Ms. Eades, I know you heard that. Ordinarily, I don’t go around wanting to kiss old ladies—which, compared to me, is apparently what you think you are. I want to kiss you. So I’ll know. Because I’ll always wonder if I don’t.”

She was looking at him. And frowning.

“Again. I want to kiss you—and I don’t want you to rush me while I’m doing it. I can’t tell anything if I rush.”

“Anything else?”

“Yeah. Stand still and don’t hit me, especially in my right arm. You think you can do that?”

“I…probably could, yes.”

“So we’re good to go, then.”


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.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

The Top Shelf by Liz Flaherty

Yesterday at Kroger, I couldn't reach the top shelf. Or maybe it was the next to the top shelf. As I stretched, trying to make five-two-and-a-half into something it isn't, a voice from behind me said, "May I help you?" A young woman in the six-foot range with dark-framed glasses and a smile reached for what I needed, and I told her she made me think of my granddaughters. Like their mother, they are tall girls who get things off top shelves for others. 

This is Memorial Day weekend. It's the week of the Race. Other places call it the 500, or the Indy 500, but I will always think of it as the Race. I've never been there because I don't like racing, but I do like that it's a tradition, that people enjoy it, that it's a point of pride in a state that...well, I won't go there. Not today. Did I mention tradition? 

Our wedding anniversary, the 52nd, will be in a few days. It was a good time to get married, because we knew we'd always have a three-day weekend. 

We'll see most of our family this weekend, although at least half of the Magnificent Seven won't be around because they live Away. They are happy. That's enough for their grandparents. Right now, I'm glad the guest room is occupied as well as a blow-up mattress in the office. It's a time of celebration. 

Mostly, though, it's a time of remembrance of those who have paid the ultimate price for service to the country, so that we can have traditions and celebrations. 

It's easy, in "times like these," to forget the good parts. Although some of us don't feel about our country quite the way we used to and every day seems to bring new disappointment, those feelings don't dim the gratitude or the reverence owed to fallen veterans.

They are the ones who've always gotten things off the top shelf for all of us. 

Have a good week. Be nice to somebody. 


Monday, May 22, 2023

Down Memory "Lane" with Donna Cronk #WriterMonday

Forty-six years ago this spring, I graduated from Union County High School in east-central Indiana. Since then, a small cedar chest has gone with me everywhere I’ve lived. It remains a minor player on my heirloom roster, yet it hasn’t strayed far, and I’ve never considered ditching it.

Sometimes I keep it inside a nightstand where it rounds up odds and ends such as a packet of tissues; a pen and notepad, a tube of hotel hand cream. Other times it roosts on a closet shelf, sheltering back-up pairs of glasses.

Inside the hinged lid is a stamp:
Lane presented by
Trading Post & Guttman’s
Connersville, Indiana.
I don’t remember the moment I received it, or even how; only that it’s a high school graduation gift from the sponsors listed under the lid.

Until this spring, I’ve never mentioned the box to anyone. I wonder how many women have these keepsakes and if the topic brings back memories—especially during this season of high school graduations.

I floated the topic on social media and learned quickly it’s a subject that draws interest. And wooden-box envy, or at least some joking/not joking about it. A classmate posted said that I must be favored somehow because she never got one. Others chimed in that they didn’t receive the gifts, either, and wonder all these years later what’s up with that.

Someone in a class three years behind mine said she didn’t get one. She connected the dots between a classmate two years my senior who posted that she is a recipient. The non-recipient woman guessed that receiving one had to do with being in a particular organization. Good guess, but nope.

A little research shows that the box giveaways were part of a national advertising effort known as Lane Furniture’s Girl Graduate Plan. Boxes weren’t delivered to the schools and passed out with handshakes on a stage, nor was any merit involved. Graduating girls received certificates entitling them to the gifts by presenting the paperwork to the sponsoring retailer.

My guess is that graduates who didn’t think they got them in fact did get the certificates but those went unnoticed nor redeemed.

I have no memory of picking up the box. But I did land my first-ever full-time job in Connersville that summer. Maybe I dropped by a sponsoring store then and picked it up. More than likely, though, my mother got it for me.

New Castle, Indiana girls received their boxes, at least during one period in the 1970s, from Holthouse Furniture.

The promotion had a long run, from 1925 to 2004, with sponsoring businesses throughout the country. Girls and possibly their mothers would visit the stores, and while there, likely looked over the larger versions, the popular hope chests that were staples of the Lane Furniture Co.

The hope chests were meant as a place for a girl or young woman to deposit pretty linens, dishes, silverware, and on a more ethereal level, her hopes and dreams for finding Mr. Right and setting up a home.

What a brilliant advertising ploy: many of the girls would soon be homemakers and consumers. They would remember the furniture store that bequeathed them the gifts when the time came to furnish their homes.

When I mentioned the chests on social media, responses flooded in from women who came of age in different decades, Hoosiers, and non-Hoosiers alike, and almost all of them still have their miniature chests.

Commenting on the post were women I’ve been social media friends with for years but who never weigh in or publicly say anything on my posts. Somehow this topic hit home. Some even took the time to photograph their boxes and post them.

What’s kept inside the boxes? A bracelet collection; high school memorabilia; tea, pictures. Two said their husbands use them for storage.

What’s inside mine is rather dull to report: sample-size hotel hand lotions, lip balms, and a pair of socks for cold feet at bedtime.

The chests posted on my page appear identical to mine, only with different sponsors, depending on their locations. But an online look at a vintage miniature cedar chest reminds me of something I had long forgotten: Mom had one like it, a little bigger, with decorative hardware to resemble a pirate’s chest.

I don’t know what happened to it and that’s fine—I don’t long for it. Just curious.

If you’re a mother or grandmother with such a chest tucked away, it might be fun to gift it to a graduating daughter or granddaughter and tell her its story. Of course, a check or gift card tucked inside might be appreciated more in the short run.

But in the long run? The card will be long forgotten over time while that useful little chest may still be with them when they are grandmothers.

For more about these treasures, visit:

Donna Cronk lives at Pendleton, Indiana with her husband of 44 years. She's author of three books, including a memoir: There's a Clydesdale in the Attic: Reflections on Keeping and Letting Go.

She is also author of two inspirational novels: Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast and its sequel, That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland. All three books are available on Amazon.

A retired newspaper reporter and section editor, Donna spent 37 years working for Indiana newspapers. She now pens a column for several newspapers and enjoys providing programs about heirlooms and creative ways to keep and give them away. If interested, contact her at, see her author page at Author Donna Cronk or visit her website,

Saturday, May 20, 2023

The Mortician's Son by Brad McClain

Brad and Frank--Brad's the one in the purple shirt

My thanks to Brad McClain, the Mortician's Son, for this week's Window Over the Sink. I know many of you saw this essay on Facebook. I hope you'll read it again--it's worth the time. Brad is a kind and compassionate soul. He plays piano and organ beautifully. He's also funny, an excellent pet dad, and...did I mention funny? He has a good heart and I am proud to know him. - Liz

I was five or six years old when I met Emma. She lived at Miller’s Merry Manor in Peru. She had a family, but few came to visit her. My dad had known her for years, and she lived most of her widowed life alone. My dad would visit her in her room at the nursing home when he’d go to see his mother, and I began to enjoy the visits to the nursing home to visit Emma and some others that my dad had introduced me to. I don’t remember the content of those visits, but I remember seeing the eyes brighten of anybody I went to visit. I remember smiles…some with teeth, and some without. I remember feeling good when I left. Sometimes I had a cookie in my hand, sometimes my ears had just heard a story from “way back when,” and sometimes, I just had the memory of having held the hand of someone who was dying and remembering the feeling of that warm hand…and then a cooler hand…and then a cold hand.
Nettie was also in the nursing home, and while she wouldn’t visit with family, she did with the six-year- old Bradley. She was mad at her family because they put her in the home, but while they never heard her voice when they would visit, they could stand outside her door and hear her tell me stories. I would sit and would hold her hand. As death grew closer and she was no longer able to speak, I would pat her frail hand just so she knew I was there, even though she wasn’t able to grasp mine any longer. My last memory was walking up to her casket and patting her cold hand one last time. Nobody commented on that when I was a child, but I know now that those interactions would ultimately help with my career as I got older.
I remember the day of Emma’s visitation. My friend and I were outside riding bikes around the funeral home and down the road and back while very few cars trickled in and out of the funeral home parking lot. Visitation was only two hours long that night, but there wasn’t the usual traffic coming and going. After the last car left, I came inside. I sat on the couch in the front of the funeral home and asked my dad why nobody came. Sadly, the story was that “Emma didn’t have anything left that anybody wanted.” He told me how they had even raced to the nursing home to see if they could grab anything from her room.

She had given my dad her wedding ring before her death because she knew that was all she would have left to bury her. On our last visit to the nursing home, she had told my dad to bring the TV home for me. That was special. It wasn’t big, but it was color, and the TV I had at the time was black and white (don’t speak of my age…) 

That year was also my first year in 4-H livestock, and the proceeds from the sale of Amos, my Poland China pig, helped me purchase piano lessons…and the TV remote for that TV since the original had been lost at the nursing home.

In our conversation, I realized that nobody would be at the funeral the next day for Emma. There was nobody to even carry her casket to the graveyard. I asked my dad, “Can I stay home tomorrow and help carry Emma’s casket.” My father kept me home that day, and seven of us sat in the funeral home and prayed for Emma and said goodbye. The seven included my parents, myself, the minister and his wife, one of our staff, and one other person. 

She had nothing left that anybody wanted, but what she left this world was my memory of her. My memory of my visits, the memory of her smile, and the memory of being able to say that she might have died alone in this world, but she wasn’t buried alone. There were people who cared. She was loved. She is remembered. The TV, well used, now resides in a landfill. The ring is in a jewelry box. The memories are treasured forever.
I was contacted by someone at a nursing home to come visit a resident who needed help planning her final resting place. When I met Dorothy, her voice was difficult to understand. Even after asking her to repeat things many times, I couldn't’ always make out what she was saying. But she made one thing very clear. She wanted to be buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Logansport where her son had been laid to rest. She didn’t want to be cremated. These were her simple instructions.
Over the past six years, I have visited Dorothy in the nursing home a few times. When we had someone who died and the family didn’t want flowers, I would take her a bouquet. Always purple, her favorite color. When someone had clothing to donate, Dorothy would get new outfits. She’d get a visit when I’d drop them off. And no matter the time of day when work called me to Hickory Creek in Peru, I would peek my head in her room to see if she was awake and tell her hello.
I don’t think that Dorothy had any visits over the last six years from anybody other than nursing home staff and me. I know she had family, but we were never able to track anybody down. She wanted a visit so much, but that didn’t seem to happen. I don’t know what had happened over the years to distance her from the family, but that didn’t matter. To me, she had smiles and a sparkle in her eyes to welcome me into her room.

The childhood memories of going to visit my friends in the nursing home seem to mean so much more to me now. Not because I remember their content, but more because I realize how much that time meant for someone else. My parents were the root of that. They were the ones who taught me the value of relationships with people and how that value far surpasses any monetary compensation. They taught me that people are the thing in this world that mean the most. Period. End of story.

Tomorrow, I will bury Dorothy in a lavender casket and a purple outfit. She will be laid to rest at 2:00 tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday, May 17, 2023) at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Logansport, most likely absent of any family since we weren’t able to contact anyone. There won't be flowers. There won't be a procession. There will just be a few people from the nursing home and my staff that come together to pray for her and to say goodbye. I will say a few words, and even shed a few tears…just as I am as I write this. I’m not sure if these tears are for Dorothy or for the gratitude I have for my parents. They were my heroes, and even though they are gone, they continue to bless me daily.
Tomorrow, I will give thanks for the life of Dorothy. I didn’t get to know her well, but I got to experience her smiles and see the joy when something purple would show up in her room. So, tomorrow, I’ll be wearing purple. I’ll admit, I could have done more and even spent more time visiting. Hindsight is 20/20 and guilt is real. 

Tomorrow, I won't leave the cemetery with a lot of money in my pocket, nor a used TV, nor any possession of Dorothy's; however, I'll leave with something more valuable. The memories of making someone's day and the memory of her smiles Hopefully, I never find myself in the position of knowing a lost and forgotten person again, but if given the chance, I can assure you I’ll give them some of my time.

Thank you, Dorothy. Thank you, Emma. Thank you, Nettie. Thank you, Barb, for introducing me to Dorothy, and thank you, Mom and Dad for making me realize how important these people would be in my life.

I want to thank my friends Barb Townsend, Mike Downham, and Lisa Miller Downham and my staff for taking the time today to help remember Dorothy.

Today, we made certain a life mattered. We made sure that Dorothy was remembered, and that her life meant something.

I was moved to tears when some of my friends showed up today for the service, but I was blown over when Judy Winegardner Davis arrived at the funeral home this morning with purple flowers for Dorothy. Thank you!!! Dorothy had purple flowers, and that was perfect.

Rest in Peace, Dorothy.

Once again, thanks to Brad for the wonderful post. Have a good week. Be nice to somebody.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Keep Them Safe by Liz Flaherty

Early in the week, I dropped my teacher kids and several dozen DeRozier's donuts off at school in the morning because of vehicle malfunctions.

I admit to a love for the school campus where we live--it's been a part of my life ever since the high school was built way, way back in the last century. It's changed a lot over the years. More buildings, including what former elementary principal Don Davis used to call the castle on the hill--more athletic fields, more driveways. There are enough directional arrows that I'm almost sure I break the law every time I turn into or drive off the school grounds.

On this morning when I dropped Jim and Kari off at their respective buildings, I saw my friend Judy, who's driven a bus through a few generations, and got out to give her a hug. "I'm retiring this year," she said. I'll believe her when school starts next fall and she's not sitting in the front of a bus. I remember one time when she was substituting for another driver and one of the passengers said he liked it when Judy drove because it was "such an adventure."

Kids and teachers and backpacks were everywhere on the high school part of the campus. Even in the car I could feel the "almost there" excitement of the school year coming to an end. I loved seeing them, wondering what their summer plans are, what they want to be when they grow up. 

I've cried some at that school. Lots of times when I went there and sometimes when my kids did. Every time one of them graduated. Watching Bob Bridge and Tim DuBois's boys walk the field before football games. In 2020 when the seniors, including one of our grandboys, ran the bases in their caps and gowns. 

As I drove away from the school the other day, I found myself crying again, and praying, because I am frightened beyond all reason of people with guns who place no value on human life beyond seeing how many people they can hurt at one time.

Yes, I know, guns don't kill people, which is why we give them to know, so they can do it. Their rights to be "...a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed..." do after all supersede the rights of children to reach adulthood. 

I don't know most of these kids' names, although I'm sure I know some of their parents and many of their grandparents. I don't know who's at the top of their class and who hasn't turned in any homework since kindergarten. I don't know, sitting in my car, whose language would scorch my ears and who never learned the value of please, thank you, or a dollar earned. I don't know who shops at boutiques and who combs the clearance racks and who depends on the kindness of strangers. I don't know who worries about being bullied, who bullies, and who doesn't give a damn either way. 

I don't know any of that and frankly, that morning in the school driveway and this morning as I write this, I don't care. I want them all to graduate, to run whatever bases their lives bring them, to walk the fields of whatever is their passion, and to have more adventures than their parents can bear worrying about. My prayer for them is always the same, and I cry with the fear of it not being answered.

Please, God, keep them safe.

Have a good week. Be nice to somebody. 


Saturday, May 6, 2023

Morning Has Broken... by Liz Flaherty

I wish the title was mine, but we all know it's not. It's borrowed from a hymn written by Eleanor Farjeon nearly 100 years ago and made famous by Cat Stevens. The lyrics are copyrighted, so I can't use them here, but thanks to the miracle of the internet, I read them this morning. There are things that are just as splendid the 100th time you see or hear them as they were the first, aren't there?

When I saw daybreak this morning--bad picture here at the side--I thought, as I have all week, of Gordon Lightfoot. He passed away Monday at the age of 84 and the words of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" haven't stopped playing in my mind since. 

The church whose bell chimed 29 times the morning of the wreck rang its bell one morning this week, too, only it rang 30 times instead. Someone played "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes. Morning broke on grief and gratitude. I guess it always does.

What is with you, Liz, that you must continually write about loss?

Yes, those italics are quoting the voice in my head. But it's not loss I'm talking about. It's the gifts we are given on the way. The gratitude inspired by those gifts. 

I love churches, old ones especially. While I haven't attended that many of them, I visit them as often as I can when traveling. I worship when I'm inside them--worship being personal. Sometimes I just mumble thank you on the way out. When Duane was in Vietnam, I'd go into St. Charles--which was unlocked in those days--and light candles to plead for his safety. 

Something I've learned about churches--whether you go there for years or whether you just visit--is that even when you leave them, you don't love them any less. The gifts you receive within those walls stay with you forever. They give you things to pass on to others. No, not judgment, but tolerance and love for others and sharing.

 I'm feeling melancholy today, because of losses and changes and how quickly daybreaks, rainbows, and sunsets pass. But then I remember there will be more. Morning will break again, rainbows will light the sky and Bart See's barn again, and the sun will set with a light show that brings people to stunned stillness. 

You learn many lessons with age, and you don't learn a lot, too. You give advice when it's not wanted, share your opinion when it wasn't asked for, and you sing along with songs that are interwoven throughout your memory even when people wish you wouldn't. Grief and gratitude share equal space in that memory. 

I am blessed. I hope you are, too. Have a good week. Be nice to somebody. 

Monday, May 1, 2023

The Best Advice by Laurie Beach

Welcome Tule Publishing author Laurie Beach to the Window today!

It was a summer day in Bakersfield, California. Red and purple drops of melted Otter Pops dotted my patio, inviting ants. My three grumpy, sweaty kids clamored to walk down to the pool again, to splash around for the second time on that sweltering day. I suggested an indoor craft project, willing to take on a sticky, glittery mess in order to stay inside with the air conditioning. One child was game, one insisted on swimming, and the other was in a fighting mood and fully prepared to loudly dash anyone’s plans, especially mine.

When my husband came home, in those days around 6:30 pm, I forced myself to smile at him. It wasn’t easy. All I wanted was for him to see on my face how hard the day had been, how exhausted I was. He changed clothes, and it was time for dinner and a show. There was always some sort of singing, dancing or shenanigans for our nightly entertainment, or exasperation, depending on how we looked at it.

Kindergarten was starting in the Fall, and with my twins in school, I would, for the first time in seven years, have time to myself during the day. I was looking forward to getting the grocery shopping done without little ones hungry for everything, and to taking a shower without worrying about what they were doing. I was about to fill those free hours with duties. But my husband saw the bigger picture. “You are being given the gift of time,” he said. “Do with it something that you’ve always wanted to do.”

I didn’t see the brilliance in his pronouncement at the time, but I do now. First, doing something for yourself is self-care. Moms need to incorporate this into their busy lives. It’s important. Second, having an artistic outlet is really good for our mental health. And third, by creating something and using one of my gifts, I found an identity outside of being a wife and mother. I was a writer. I needed that.

Thanks to my husband, my writing journey began fifteen years ago. This week, that book from fifteen years ago, the one I revised a million times, the one that healed my soul, launched into the world. What I feared was a massive waste of time turned out to be one of my greatest joys. And, lucky me, two more books will be launched in the next several months.

My advice to you is: Find the time to do something you love. Make your creative self a priority. Who knows what will happen when you do something you’ve always dreamt of doing? Maybe something great. Maybe something life-changing. Definitely something worthwhile.

Laurie Beach is a former news reporter, advertising producer, and political press secretary who, after raising four children, is parlaying her love of reading and writing into a career as an author. She is a sucker for elderly people, grumpy animals, and happy endings. Having grown up in Alabama, she loves novels set in the South. Laurie now lives in California with her husband and their spoiled old dog.