Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Junk Drawer

Does everyone have a  junk drawer?

I have one in my kitchen. It’s the place I put things that are useful but odd. I keep random pencils and pens there. A ruler, matches, and maybe a rubber band or two I pull off the newspaper. It’s where I go when I need scissors. I keep a screwdriver there; the kind you can change the head for different projects. It proves handy because then I don’t have to run out to the garage for a small project.

I think I’ve had such storage in every house I’ve occupied. If I didn’t have a drawer it was a basket on the counter or a small box on a shelf. There is value in having a junk drawer. Maybe.

The other day I needed a pencil so rather than go to my office, I decided to save time by grabbing one out of the kitchen junk drawer. 

Big mistake. The drawer has become a catchall. I started clawing through the mass of outdated coupons, batteries, a baggie with extra cabinet hinges, and pens. I found an old solar calculator I never use, a spool of red twine and the tape measure I’d been looking for since March.

I found a miniature toy truck that needs work, two padlocks with keys in a baggie, and a golf ball. There were three of those plug-in air fresheners but I’m pretty sure you can’t buy the refills anymore. 

I found markers, a pocket sized level and a baggie with allergy pills in it. There were several business cards stuck in the front. That is highly unusual because I have a special place for business cards in my desk.  (I’ve always kept them together since watching an episode of Dick Van Dyke as a kid…the one where Rob and Laura need to find a painter for their house and Laura pulls out a stack of business cards she’s kept together over the years.)

I could account for nearly every item. But I wasn’t sure why I stuffed a large purple ribbon in the drawer and why I kept a random church bulletin there. It wasn’t even from my church. 

I pulled everything out and spent an hour organizing it. 

Yes, I did find a pencil. The tip was broken. It didn’t matter. I forgot what I wanted to do with it anyway.

At least I ridded my kitchen of the clutter. I’ve always said there are two things that make you tired and rob you of time: clutter and procrastination. 

Case in point. Please tell me I’m not alone. Do you have a random storage area? Are you brave enough to share your own “junk drawer” experience?

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Meet Sonja, Fish Creeks Newest Resident

While reading an article sharing fun blog posts, one woman suggested authors should try interviewing characters from their books. Intriguing. I hope you’ll bear with me as I give it a try. I’ve created here a radio journalist to interview the main character of Libby's Cuppa Joe, Sonja. Thank you to my friend, Geoff Fuller for lending his name to my radio personality.

Ready? Here goes…and be sure to let me know what you think.

Geoff Fuller: First let me welcome you to Door County, Sonja. I understand you’re from California. That’s a big move.

Sonja Parker: Well, yes, but I’m originally from Wisconsin. I took a job in California when I graduated from college, but I grew up in Kenosha. 

Geoff: What made you choose Door County?

Sonja: My family spent a lot of vacation time in Door County and every year we came for the Pumpkin Festival in Egg Harbor.

Geoff: So have you been here during what we call “the season”?

Sonja: We visited some during the summer, but more often we came the week after Easter or in the fall. I’ve always loved Door County.

Geoff: Were you in the coffee shop business in California?

Sonja:  (laughs) No. Actually, in California I worked in a logistics. We distributed faucets and the like, but I majored in business administration and minored in entrepreneurship in college. 

Geoff: That leads me to ask, why a coffee shop?

Sonja: Well, I always wanted to own my own business. My dad owns his own landscaping business in Kenosha. I guess it’s in my blood. Then, when Libby’s Cuppa Joe became available, I could see all of the possibilities. 

Geoff: Possibilities. Does that mean you see changes to Libby’s in the future? And by the way it’s good to see you didn’t change the name. Libby’s Cuppa Joe has been a part of the Fish Creek landscape as long as I can remember.

Sonja: Yes, I am keeping the name and of course I plan to continue to offer a great cup of coffee, but eventually I do hope to add a few specialty coffees to the list as well. 

Geoff: Well the folks here are happy to see Libby’s Cuppa Joe reopening. 

Sonja: Thank you, Geoff, I am very excited to be here. Door County is the gem of Wisconsin. Living and working here is a dream come true.

Geoff: Folks in Door County, Libby’s Cuppa Joe will be open for local traffic from 8 in the morning until noon weekdays starting in March and will officially open for the vacation season in May. You can read more about Sonja, the business and get the full scoop by purchasing Libby’s Cuppa Joe by Rebecca Waters. Now available through Amazon or your local Barnes and Noble.

Well, there you have it. What do you think? What else do you want to know about Sonja that isn’t in the book? By the way, if you haven’t read the book yet, grab your today.  CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE BOOK AND READ THE FIRST CHAPTER.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Ah...Summer? No. Argh, Summer!

This little guy doesn't
seem to mind the heat!
I must not complain about the sweltering, energy draining, oppressive heat we are experiencing in southern Ohio right now. I can’t. I complained when we had cold, gloomy days in winter. I longed for endless sunshine during those short days of January and February.

I remember clearly in March and April and well into May when I grumbled about the constant dark clouds and torrential rains. During that time I thumbed through back issues of Southern Living dreaming of the garden I would plant when the sun began to shine. I had visions of summer when I would lounge on the deck sipping sweet tea while enjoying an array of colorful flowers.

Don’t misunderstand. I enjoy the crisp air of a wintry day. I love the clean look of the soft snow covering bumps and flaws in my yard. I enjoy sitting by the fire and reading a good book. Winter can be beautiful.

And the spring rain? The sound of a thunderstorm is in many ways restful and welcome. Unless of course it goes on so many days the ground is saturated and the fear of flooding seeps into my thoughts late at night. 

Summer has at last arrived. Not as I imagined it, though. My air conditioner is working overtime. I plan the mowing of my lawn in segments. I mow the back yard in the morning before the sun is high in the sky (though not too early so I won’t disturb my neighbors) and the front yard in the evening hours as the sun begins its descent westward.

I water the flowers and vegetables I planted and pray they’ll make it. 

Instead of sitting on the deck reading or listening to music or painting (all part of my wintertime fantasy about this season), I find projects in my basement to keep me busy. The basement is the coolest part of my house.

The thing is, it feels like the middle of August instead of the first week of July. But I remind myself…I must not complain.

I know I’m not alone. Is it that we are never satisfied? Is it that we are always looking ahead? Or behind?

Or is it quite simply…the weather? I'm not sure. All I know is that I'm dreaming of autumn.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

He Said, She Said...Now I Know Why

Have you ever played out a conversation in your mind? You know. You have to talk with someone at work about an issue and you practice what you’ll say. You anticipate how he or she will respond. Then you think of what you’ll say next and so forth. Of course in real life the other person doesn’t always play his or her part the way you expected at all.

Or how about this one? You’re going to meet someone you admire so you try to think of something clever to say. Something memorable. 

Or maybe you replay a verbal encounter you had with someone and think about all of the things you could have or should have said. You rewrite the dialogue in your head. You rewrite it to win your case or to make you look better.

We all do it. Some more than others. 

Tom Thought With His Head...
I Tend to Think With My Heart
For example, when I had an idea about…well, anything…I would rehearse how to present it to Tom. You see, although Tom and I were pretty good at talking things through, I knew better than to suggest something in such a way as to elicit a yes or no response. He might say, “No” and that would be the end of it. 

We thought differently. For a long time, I thought there was Tom’s way of thinking and the right way of thinking. He was always so logical. 

His first responses came from the top of his head. Mine came from the bottom of my heart.

I’ve since learned that men simply think differently than women do –for the most part. I think God makes us that way so we can have some sort of balance in our problem solving. We need both ways. 

Although we often found some middle ground, sometimes we went with Tom’s approach and other times we went with mine. In the end, everything seemed to work out fine.

 I still have challenges. I have problems to solve and around-the-house items to fix. I find myself taking more time to figure things out. I try to think how Tom might respond to a problem or situation. I can almost hear the dialogue in my head. 

And sometimes I still disagree with his approach. I do it my way. If it works, I’m in the clear. If it doesn’t I quickly backpedal and try it the way he would have done in the first place. 

Perhaps one of the reasons I like writing is because I can create the dialogue I want without argument. My characters may act out or pose a differing viewpoint, but with a good strong flick of the pen I can generally bring them around to my way of thinking. 

I’m grateful for Tom showing me a different way of seeing life. I trust that experience brings depth and a genuine feel to my characters. I’ve enjoyed a few good conversations with male friends since Tom died. Now I know to appreciate them –though I’ll likely still follow my heart in the end.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A Little Spunk and a Whole Lot of Resiliency

This week I had someone tell me I have “spunk and resiliency.” 
Seriously. An image of me as Katharine Hepburn came to mind. 

“Oh my…that is a frightful thought, now isn’t it?” 

Young Hepburn
Free Image From Pixabay
(Looks More Like Audrey than Katharine)

Then I looked up spunk and resiliency in the dictionary. 

The informal definition says spunk refers to courage and determination. Another definition says it applies to someone willing to take on a daunting task with energy and conviction.

Resiliency refers to the ability to be happy or successful again after a person has gone through a difficult time or experience.

Do those words really apply to me? 

This week marks one year since I returned from Europe. I took stock. Since my return I’ve built three dollhouses for my granddaughters, had knee surgery, installed a kitchenette in my basement (more about that in a later post), and pitched a proposed series to a major publishing house. 

Spunk? Maybe.

I’ve also taken on shoveling snow in the winter and mowing the lawn now that the weather is warm. I’m learning how to use Tom’s tools on an as needed basis.
Launch of Libby's Cuppa Joe

I’ve hosted dinners and brunches for friends and family. I’ve entertained people in my home and opened my doors to a family reunion. I’ve celebrated holidays and held my annual caroling party. I’ve played with my grandchildren and traveled with my daughters and my mother. 

I launched Libby’s Cuppa Joe and finished writing the first of a three book series. I’m now on book two.

Resiliency? I guess. 

So where does that come from? It isn’t my own invention. It is something of a legacy handed down to me by my parents. 

My Mom and Dad Modeled Spunk and Resiliency!
My mom, the middle of seven children, was the first in her family to graduate from high school and the only one to continue her education. Then she set off to see the world. She started that journey in Ohio where she met my dad.

My dad joined the US Navy and was the only one in his family to serve. He worked hard and boldly started several businesses, all of which were successful. 

When I was four-years-old, my parents left behind all they knew to move to Arizona. The doctor said it was the best way to treat my asthma. They didn’t know anyone who lived there. They had no idea where they would live. Dad left a good job in Ohio with no promise of work in Tucson.

The move was a success. My breathing improved and my parents carved out a good life while we lived there.

I've always described my parents as “positive thinkers.” Maybe that’s the best definition for both spunk and resiliency.

So maybe those are the words to describe me after all. I am a positive thinker. 
One Year Ago This Week I Returned From Kosovo

The thing is, though, I don’t feel all that spunky. And resilient? To my thinking, I just keep plugging along. Doing my best. 

But then maybe that’s all Katharine did, too. I’ll take “spunk” and “resiliency.” It sure beats “wimpy” and “stuck.”

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Good Sons, Good Men.

L-R Brian, Me, and Walt: Cousins
I had the privilege of spending some time this week with a couple of cousins I really never knew. Our fathers were first cousins. Actually, they were double first cousins. My grandmother was a Kadle who married a Williams and their grandmother was a Williams who married a Kadle. A brother and sister married a sister and brother. 

Confused? Don’t worry. It was all on the up and up.

Our paths likely crossed through the years at family reunions and funerals but I can’t say “the boys” and I really played together or ever had a meaningful conversation. Our parents stayed in touch, though. When my parents moved back to Ohio, they reconnected with my dad’s cousins. They went to Lake Cumberland together and occasionally shared a meal.

A few years ago, the younger of the two brothers and I became Facebook friends. Brian and I share a love for family history. Although both Brian and Walt live “out west,” I knew they faithfully visited their mother after their father died. I knew they supported her when she remarried. I watched on Facebook as they travelled to be with her when her health was failing. I mourned with them from afar as they buried their mother last fall.

They have been good sons.

This week they were faced with the daunting task of going through her house; making decisions about what to do with her things. They are spending the week sorting, packing, cleaning, and reliving a life well lived. 

My mother and I offered what little help we could. 

I’ve walked a similar road. When Tom died I did nothing at first with his things. It was hard to let go. Eventually, I offered some of his clothes to my sons-in-law. I gave some of his better shoes to my grandson and made sure each of my grandsons had at least one of his ties.  

The Kadle Boys Childhood Home
I couldn’t, for whatever reason, dump his things in a Goodwill bin. It felt disrespectful. I know Goodwill does good things, but they seemed like a “middle man” to get to the people I knew could use his shirts and pants and suits. When it came time to clear out the closet, I donated his good clothes left there to a homeless shelter. Helping others in need was part of Tom’s DNA. 

(Okay, true confession: A few of Tom's favorite shirts continue to have a place in my closet. But I digress.)

Brian lives in New Mexico and Walt lives in Arizona. It isn’t like they can make a couple of trips back and forth with a few boxes on the front seat of their car. And they don’t need most of the kitchen things. They held tight to the photos and those items steeped in childhood memories but gave other things to family members and friends who had a use for them. 

And they had a “yard sale.” Oh, it wasn’t like any yard sale I’ve ever seen. There were no prices on anything. If someone offered them a dollar or two for an item, they accepted it, but if the person obviously liked something and it was out of their price range, no problem. Brian and Walt would give it to them.

I watched as a little girl from a few houses away eyed a doll. Brian showed her how the doll transformed to tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood. The little girl was delighted. “How many monies is the doll?” she asked. Before Brian could answer, the child’s mother said, “We just walked down here. I don’t have any money on me. I’ll have to go back to the house for it.” Brian squatted down and looked at the little girl eye-to-eye. He put the doll in her arms. “I think you should have this doll,” he said. 

I watched time and again as the men gave things to people stopping by. A few things they sold, pricing them well below any sort of “fair market value.” Why? Because they aren’t greedy. The way they handled themselves through this most difficult time actually honored their parents. 

The things their mother and father valued, they value. Those items that still have life and use in them will continue to be used by others in the neighborhood. They’re donating other things to community centers and gifting treasures to members of the family.

You see, Brian and Walt aren’t just good sons. They’re good men. And I’m honored to call them family.

Children will not remember you for the material things you provided for them but for the feeling that you cherished them. --Richard Evans

Be sure to leave a comment. I'll respond.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

We Are All A Work In Progress

WIP…Work In Progress. 

A work in progress. We’re all there. Trying to figure out life and our role in it. Trying to be a little bit better as a human each day. Just as writers craft and draft a story then spend countless hours revising it and editing it to make it a little better, we do the same with our lives. 

Two of My Grands Figuring Out Life
Childhood resembles that first draft stage where we try many things as we discover what works best for us. I’ve watched as my children and now my grandchildren discover their gifts and talents. Childhood is that time to explore the world and get to know the people in it. We discover the ways in which we differ from others and, hopefully, the many ways we are the same. It’s also the time we learn to be kind and helpful to people around us.

As my oldest grandson enters his last year of high school, he is visiting colleges and determining which one will help him take his strengths to the next level. Education is definitely a state of revision. It’s where our thinking is challenged and we learn to articulate who we are and what we want to do in life with skill and accuracy. Mostly. 

We change. The characters in our personal story change over time. I went from being only a daughter to also being a wife and then a mother and now a grandmother. I was once defined only as a teacher or professor but now I’m a writer. Even my titles changed. Miss Williams to Mrs. Waters to Dr. Waters. And with each new role or experience, the main character in my story has added some new dimension to who she is and what she can do. 

And even though I don’t care for the term, I am unwillingly now a widow. That characterization brings with it significant changes to what I can or cannot do as my story continues to unfold. 

Through it all, I claim God as the author of my life and try to follow His writing of it, I know that I have it within me to determine if I am going to be a protagonist or antagonist. I choose protagonist. Hands down.

But editing? I’m pretty sure that is a lifelong venture.

Yep, when I started to write this post, I thought I would return to the subject of writing. I intended to tell my readers about my current WIP. I was going to tell you about the sweet romance series I’m crafting that takes place in Florida. I call it the Azalea Lakes Series and it has three books in it.

Then my daughter sent me the picture I featured here of my granddaughters sitting by a frozen lake in the mountains. Who knows what they’re talking about? All I know is that they’re in this place called childhood…in the beginning stages of a first draft.

Do leave a comment. I so enjoy hearing from my readers. Where are you in your story?