Saturday, September 30, 2023

Off Our Rockers by Donna Cronk

For the last two decades we’ve kept a pair of plastic Adirondack-styled chairs on our front porch, centered under the picture window.

The chairs are the beige hue of our house trim, which match nicely, but their seats are too low for older knees, making them more for show than for sitting. And truly, what’s to show about cheap lawn furniture, matching or otherwise?

In the winter, the western wind blows the chairs around the porch as though a ghost is scooting them. Sometimes a stronger wind sends them tumbling into the landscaping. Since we’re short on garage space, our fix is to stack them unattractively into a porch corner. The weight adds stability against the elements until the chairs resume their warm-weather placement.

Last spring, I decided this is ridiculous. We’re in our sixties! If we’re not worthy of proper porch furnishings now, then when? What we need, I decided, is a pair of functional chairs. Black ones, to match our outdoor house sconces. Sturdy ones, to survive hail or high water. Rocking ones, which will keep their upright stance.

I had my eye on such a pair but needed to run it by the house appropriations committee. The committee chair said to get them. No quiz, no commentary, no asking the price, even. My kind of yes.

Upon closer inspection, the chairs are even better than I had remembered. They’re made here in Indiana of composite all-weather material, and each comes with a twenty-year guarantee.

“They’ll last longer than I will,” Brian deadpanned, after a tough winter of his own, and by noting that he would be eighty-seven when the warranty expires. I saved the printed guarantee in a folder alongside other household papers.

How surprised the store clerk would be if a chair breaks at, say age nineteen, and I show up with my flimsy receipt and warranty.

The minute they were lifted from son Sam’s truck-cargo bed and onto the porch, they looked ideal, as though created for that exact spot. I dreamt of the years ahead, sitting in one chair, with Brian in the other as we rock and wave to neighbors and their dogs while they stroll up and down our street during peaceful evenings.

I’ve always loved a good rocking chair, and these seats fit my backside with space to spare. The armrests are likewise substantial, able to balance a glass of iced tea or cup of hot coffee with ease as I rock. Our knees have no issues here, either.

Brian didn’t rush to try the chairs, but I kept prodding until he joined me for a trial rock. I awaited his compliments. He didn’t offer any. Later he told me that they didn’t fit him all that well. I felt disappointed.

As spring gave way to summer, I rocked on the porch every time I got the chance, at least once a day. I added cushions to soften the seats; maybe Brian would like them more.

A friend who lives forty-five minutes away emailed, “I’d like to come sit on your porch and rock awhile.”

I loved her comment. I would drive a distance to rock and talk with a friend. It’s such a simple, pleasing activity. To know that someone else would do the same brought delight.

And I wonder: why don’t we all do that sort of thing? I would imagine we think that others are too busy, that it’s a silly request, or an invasion of privacy. Sometimes, though, spontaneous, informal connection is something many of us not only welcome but crave.

As summer continued in the months following Brian’s cancer ordeal of that winter and spring, he continued to regain his strength. I rejoiced when he felt able to walk first half a mile, then a full mile around our neighborhood in the cool of the evening at the start of golden dusk. When I spotted him entering my line of vision from down the street, life felt complete, as did I; a moment to freeze frame in the memory bank.

Then, it happened. One day I sat on the porch rocking while Brian lapped our neighborhood, something he does six of seven days a week whether he feels like it or not. When he finished, instead of going into the house, he sat down in the other rocker, and we talked for a bit. The next night it happened again, then again.

Before long, as July gave way to August, he would say, “I’m going to walk.” I took it as my cue to turn off the TV or close the laptop computer and go sit on the porch, anticipating his return.

I might even sweep the porch or water the plants, pull a weed or two, all the while keeping watch for his familiar outline to approach from down the street before assuming a rocking posture.

For about fifteen minutes during these evenings, we rocked and chatted about plans, news of the moment, the kids, whatever we had to offer.

One evening Brian walked but I didn’t make it to the porch. When he returned to the house he said, with a measure of disappointment, “You didn’t come out and wait for me.”

Touched that he cared, I’ve been sure to be there since.

I came to notice that like clockwork, at dusk a flock of geese from a nearby pond takes flight in perfect formation over our house, heading west. I would love to know where these birds go, surely headed to their nesting ground for a night’s rest. Maybe they wonder why we sit on the porch, a formation of two humans, never once leaving the ground.

When you go through a loved one’s illness, you treasure simple moments like these in a new way. I’m grateful to the good Lord for daily life, a precious gift to unwrap. I can’t possibly get everything in that I would like to pack into twenty-four hours. Much is still to be done in this life.

Lately Brian hasn’t mentioned the chairs being uncomfortable. Maybe it’s the cushions. Or maybe it’s the company.

Now that it’s fall, the Midwestern evenings are increasingly cool and crisp. Comfortable rocking sessions will gradually become fewer. Soon I’ll remove the cushions and for a few months, the chairs will stay put. But these chairs are built to last and aren’t likely to drift into the landscaping when winter winds whip.

Soon, it will be time to come off our rockers. We’ll dream of spring.

Until then, the chairs will save our seats.

Donna Cronk is a Pendleton author and retired newspaper reporter. Her latest book is a memoir inspired by cleaning out her attic, called, There’s a Clydesdale in the Attic: Reflections on Keeping and Letting Go. She enjoys providing fun and humorous programs to women’s groups regarding heirlooms and how to enjoy them. Connect at:

Saturday, September 23, 2023

We'll be right back... by Liz Flaherty

Taking a couple of weeks off! Will be back sometime in October. Last night's signing at Gallery 15 was wonderful. Looking forward to signing on September 30 at the Monticello Library from 2-4 PM. 

I hope you're all having a great beginning of fall! See you in a few weeks!


Saturday, September 16, 2023

Eyes On the Ceiling by Liz Flaherty

I saw them before the nurse started putting drops in my eyes. Two eyes and a nose in what looked like a pen-and-ink drawing on the ceiling above me. "Who put them there?" I asked. She said it was an anesthetist (or anesthesiologist--I don't know which is which) who was no longer at the clinic where I was having the cataract removed from my left eye. "Cool idea," I said, and blinked because there were more drops. 

From the days of fun annual visits with the gynecologist, I remembered mobiles hanging from above the table-with-stirrups. I don't remember if they moved or what they were. The doctor's wife, a nurse who understood about stirrups and discomfort and cold specula, had chosen the mobiles for each exam room. 

Where I get my hair "adjusted" to keep me a natural blonde, a wall ornament with a message printed on it is on the ceiling above the shampoo bowls. 

I was always a reader, while the kids were growing up, I took advantage of every moment of non-activity to read. While the family watched TV, I read. While I fixed dinner, I read. In the car waiting for myriad practices to end, I read. I enjoyed what I read, but even now when my kids' kids are mostly grown, I wonder how much I missed because I didn't look up often enough. 

We live near a corner that has stop signs on the east-west road. Since I am always up before daylight, I occasionally watch the corner when I see vehicles approaching it. I have no statistics, but the number of vehicles who blow the red octagon sign is amazing. I don't mean they roll the sign or that they slow down to ensure no headlights are approaching from either the north or the south--I mean they disregard it entirely. Most of the time there isn't traffic from the other ways, but it only takes once. I wish they'd look up. 

This is one of those posts where I could give soooo many examples: sunrise, sunset, pretty moon, deer in the field, little kids laughing. babies, rainbows. Entreaties to heaven and "hi, Mom" to the same place. But I've probably given enough, and the whole thing only has one message. 

Look up.

Have a good week. Be nice to somebody. 

Rose, Debby, Joe, and I hope you'll join us for a book signing at Gallery 15 on September 22. Event host Sarah Luginbill will have music from Ryan Record and light refreshments. 

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Sixteen Years...Really! by Liz Flaherty

Who knew I'd been blogging for 16 years? Certainly not me. Sixteen years ago, I was still working at the post office and had only published a couple of books. Six of the Magnificent Seven had already arrived to teach Duane and me the coolness of grandparenting. I was driving my very first SUV, which was a lemon and with which I hit my first deer in the 30 years of driving to Logansport every day. But it did convince me SUVs were definitely my chosen way to go. 

This came from September of 2007. My love affair with autumn is still going strong and I go into these next months with hope and determination. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great week. Be nice to somebody. 

If you've never lived here in North Central Nowhere, where Nothing Ever Happens and there's Nothing To Do, well, hey, I'm sorry. We're slippery-sliding into autumn right now. Even though the temperatures are still climbing into the 80s on a lot of days, they're also diving headlong into the 40s at night. This means that if no one was looking, some of us would run the air conditioning during midday hours and turn on the furnace when we get up in the morning. (I can't do this because the boyfriend always notices things like that.)

But the colors here--I'm writing this in only one of them--defy description. I remember being so surprised that Vermont in October really does look like calendar pictures. So does Indiana. Plus I'm pretty sure our entire state smells like apples and cornfields and burning leaves. (There's a pig farm down the road that distributes an entirely different smell, but that's only certain times of the day, thank goodness--and carnivore that I am, I do really love ham and pork chops. Sigh.)

Well, I see I'm wandering here, when all I really wanted to do was brag about fall in the Midwest, where it truly is glorious. It sounds like Friday night high school football and crunching leave and feels good. Even though the truth is that things really do happen here and there really are things to do, those of us who were born here love the reputation we have. I think we like knowing something the rest of the world doesn't.

Except that I just told, didn't I? Oh, well...have a good day, everybody.

Four authors are selling and signing books at Gallery 15 on September 22. Ryan Record is providing music and we'll be surrounded by wonderful art. I hope you come. There will be cookies! And I heard maybe fudge...

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Texas Girls by Kristina Knight

I'm excited to have my longtime Word Wranglers friend Kristina Knight at the Window today. She's talking about writing and re-introducing her popular Texas Girls series.

If you read many ‘how to’ type of posts you’ll find a lot of different answers to the question ‘what is the most important part of writing’.

This is one of those posts, but it’s also not one of those posts.

For me, the most important part of writing is simply to write.

On any given day, there are about a thousand things that crop up that I’m not ready for. Whether it’s my daughter coming home from school with marker on her shirt from art class, or my husband calling to say he won’t be home for dinner, which also means I’m on homework duty. To having a non-fiction assignment come up. To having first round edits and final read-through documents come in from my editors on the same day.

And all of those things can seem, in the moment, to be more important that getting the two or three thousand words on paper that I’ve set for my goal.

What I’ve found, though, is that putting off the writing has a snowball effect. Because the next day not only do I still need to write those words, I also need to write the current day’s words. And there are more last minute emergencies to deal with: like learning my mother-in-law is coming over for dinner, and that I have to fill out an art fact sheet for my cover designer, and I have blog and promo posts to write for my upcoming book release, and I haven’t updated my social media sites in too many days. And. And. And and and and and.

That’s why, no matter what else I have going on, what other items are on my to-do list, what little emergencies have come up that day, at 1 PM every day, I’m at my computer. Writing the new words. The emergencies wait. The to-do list waits. The new words get written, and then I go back to the errands and emergencies and to-do list items. Because if the new words aren’t on the paper, I can’t edit them. If I can’t edit them, I can’t turn them in to my agent or editor. If I can’t turn them in, I can’t perfect them. If I can’t perfect them (at least as much as I can perfect them), I can’t publish them to share with readers.

What about you? What is the most important part of writing, for you?

Kristina’s Texas Girls are back! What a Texas Girl Wants, What a Texas Girl Needs, and What a Texas Girl Dreams are releasing this month! 

About the Books

What a Texas Girl Wants
The last thing Jackson Taylor wants in his life is a down-to-earth girl like Kathleen Witte, so why did he just wake up next to her on a Mexican beach with a ring on his finger? Once they’re back in Texas though, this all-business marriage might just turn into an all-consuming love. Purchase on Amazon

What a Texas Girl Needs: Matias Barnes knows all about society women like Vanessa Witte. It’s part of the reason he left his wealthy family behind and took a job on a ranch. But while Mat knows she’s so not right for him, can he resist her charms long enough to really let her go? Purchase on Amazon

What a Texas Girl Dreams: They are opposites in so many ways, but the more veterinarian Trickett Samuels gets to know footloose and fancy free Monica Witte, the more he wonders if he can convince this Texas girl that having roots will only help her soar higher. Purchase on Amazon

Saturday, September 2, 2023

These Precious Days by Liz Flaherty

Welcome, September! We're heading into one of my favorite times of year right now, when the view out the west window changes every day, the air is fresh and crisp and smelling of harvested grain and apples and everything pumpkin. (If you don't like apples and/or everything pumpkin, that's fine, but we don't discuss that here.)

I took the title of this week's blog from "September Song." While the song itself doesn't fit, these are indeed precious days. All days are, something we discover when we realize how fast they go.

It's also the season of holidays. While big-box store displays would lead us to think Halloween is in June and Christmas is at the end of July, we know better. However, I admit to looking at holiday fabric and thinking of projects I'm not nearly skilled enough to complete. I print out recipes I'll never bake, although I'll look at the pictures a lot and sometimes I'll buy the ingredients. 

It's the best time of the year at the orchards! McClure's and Doud's are both open and perfect places to while away a few hours. 

It's a giving time, isn't it? Churches will be having soup suppers, harvest suppers, and bake-and-craft sales on their premises. There will be vendor sales  at every available venue, complete with food trucks. Anita's Boutique and Gallery 15  and other local stores will have so many pretty things and things that sparkle and things that you don't know how you can possibly go on without. I mean, things you know someone on your gift list wants or needs. 

It's time for Football Friday Nights, too. Be on guard for fundraisers. Be generous when they catch you. 

Have you noticed yet that I really don't have a subject this week? I do have a question for you. Readership on the Window is decreasing. This isn't a terrible thing; after all, it's been around in one incarnation or other since the 1980s, and I've talked a lot during those years. I'm not ready to stop writing the blog/column, but maybe it's time to write it less often. Or to change it. What do you think? Is it time? All ideas--including Just shut up, Liz; you're boring!--accepted. 

Speaking of the Window, the ebooks of Window Over the Sink and Window Over the Desk are 99 cents this week at all electronic retailers. I still have paper copies and so does Anita at the boutique. 

Then, just giving you a heads-up, Rose Cousins, Joe DeRozier, Debby Myers, and I are having a books signing at Gallery 15. Ryan Record will provide music and there will be light refreshments. The Gallery is always a treat to visit, and Sarah and Ron Luginbill are great hosts.

I hope to see you out and about and that you're having wonderful times on these beautiful, precious days we've been seeing lately. Have a good week. Be nice to somebody.