Thursday, December 25, 2014


Luke 2:8-14King James Version (KJV)

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
A Blessed Christmas to you!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

BACK IN THE DAY - Christmas!!

There was always snow, we always had a big tree, there were always lots of presents under the tree, Santa always came and brought just what I wanted, we ate turkey and stuffing and had lots of people over to spend the day with us, we sang Christmas carols at school and made red and green paper chains to decorate our classroom . . . .
The above description is called revisionist history—looking back and seeing what we want to see.

I don’t quarrel with revisionists in general. But my looking back on Christmas wasn’t always the rose-colored picture I painted in the first paragraph.

Living in east central Illinois, we sometimes had snow for Christmas. When we did, it was beautiful, covering lawns and shrubs and getting caught on tree limbs. Evergreens held out sturdy branches to catch drifts of white stuff. But when we had a green Christmas, there was less chance of having to be pulled out of a ditch when the car skidded out of control.
In later years our family often lived far from “home,” so we traveled back to Illinois for Christmas whenever possible. That meant there was no tree at all in the place we left. But I do remember receiving presents, wherever we happened to be on Christmas--just what I wanted or even better than I’d dreamed about.

The Christmas tree I remember most was when I was in fifth grade. My mom decided that year we’d have a blue tree—all the glass balls, all the light bulbs, were blue. After those were attached, we hung tinfoil “icicles” all over, and they turned blue in the reflected lights. I never had a blue tree after I got married; the multi-colored light bulbs always seemed more cheery.


I don’t recall turkey dinners. For just three of us, we had roast chicken or maybe ham. When we went to a relative’s house, we ate whatever they served. Later on, when I was the homemaker, we had turkey dinners for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. They just seemed the right thing to have. With stuffing, cranberry sauce or salad, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, daiquiri salad (a frozen thing, halfway between a sweet salad and a dessert), rolls, pies (pumpkin and apple at Thanksgiving, pumpkin and mincemeat at Christmas).
Back in the day, we did indeed sing Christmas carols at school. My favorite year was fourth grade, when Miss Kincaid taught us simple two-part harmony. I fell totally in love with music that year. I learned to read notes, both bass and treble clefs, as well as the time and key signatures, and began to sound out the tunes to unfamiliar songs. Thanks to Miss Kincaid, I became an alto for the rest of my life.

I suppose we made paper chains—that seems a normal things for kids to do—but I seem to recall we cut out shapes from construction paper and fashioned other holiday decorations for our room. Best of all, we learned to draw simple shapes, like evergreens, to decorate notepaper.


Last year's snow

Christmas today is much different for me. I’m seldom downhearted if the snow doesn’t show up in time for December 25th, because I know anyone traveling needs good clear roads.
If my Christmas tree is small, it’s still a symbol for me of this festive season. If I can’t have one for some reason, I enjoy the trees of my friends and in my children’s homes.

Presents? Sure, I love getting presents. But at my age and stage of life, receiving isn’t as important as giving. I love making things for my family—quilts, scarves, wall hangings, baked goods, even soup!—because I know they’ll be used, enjoyed, and appreciated. I know because they tell me so.
Holiday dinners don’t have to be lavish or covering three tabletops. If they’re eaten with people I love and whose company I enjoy, then they’re great meals. Memorable meals.

Nowadays I decorate less, and seldom make the decorations that I do use. But I listen to Christmas carols on the CD player, watch movies on the DVD player, and do some shopping to feel the excited energy of people revving up for the holidays.

In the past ten or fifteen years, Christmas has taken on new meanings for me—deeper meanings. My church celebrates Advent, a time of waiting and preparing for the birth of Christ, the four Sundays prior to Christmas; we listen to Scripture readings that speak of the end-times and point us toward the reason for Christ’s coming in the first place—to die for us.
We also have a Christmas Day service at 9:00 AM; I’m playing the organ for that service for the second year. Fewer people attend Christmas Day—many because they have large crowds at their homes, and they’ve probably come on Christmas Eve, a festive celebration indeed. But the size of the congregation doesn’t matter—I’m blessed to be able to play the carols that have come down to us through the centuries, as well as a few newer ones that have become familiar, and to worship in the beauty and holiness of the season.

Now I’ve come full circle. When I was young, my parents made Christmas for me. Then when I had my own family, their dad and I made Christmas for the kids. Now my children make Christmas for me.

I celebrate the joy of being connected again to my own childhood through my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The toys are different, the music may be different, the movies are new and goofy (just my opinion), but the excitement is still there.

God bless you all this Christmastide!


Thursday, December 11, 2014


I’ve often heard the lament, “Whatever happened to good manners?”
I can testify that good manners are alive and well in Northeast Indiana.

Well, maybe not all over the Northeast Corner, and maybe not all the time. But certainly in my small city and in Fort Wayne, frequently.
For example, last Friday I went to the big Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts store in Fort Wayne. Now early December isn’t exactly the best time to shop—everybody and her sister is out there looking for deals on fabric, stuff to make things, books/magazines, you-name-it. So I decided to be crafty (like the pun?) and get there early.

Arrived at 9:15—parking lot wasn’t crowded—not much traffic between me and the store. Got inside, found everything I wanted, went to the cutting counter and took my number. I was next in line with my cart load of bolts of fabric to be cut when a new clerk came up to help. Another young woman customer stood to one side of me with a big piece of 4” thick foam to be cut. That was her only item.
So I did what I always do and said, “Is that all you’re going to have cut?” When she said yes, I told her to go ahead; my order would take some time.

She thanked me. Another 30-ish customer getting things cut also thanked me. And the clerk smiled at me.
Really! All I did was give someone 4 or 5 minutes of my time. Apparently that was a big thing to the other few customers around me.

Okay. That was Friday.
Saturday I went to my Walmart, my Kroger store, and my Speedway. Everyone was pleasant and I got my shopping done without mishap. As I left the Speedway store, a young man held the door for me. I thanked him. I, in turn, held the door for a young dad and his child. The dad thanked me.

At the dollar store, the clerk asked if I’d found everything all right, and I said, “Yes, I found everything I was looking for.” She thanked me!
So I’ve concluded that while it doesn’t take much effort on my part to be polite, it appears to be catching!

Or maybe I just got lucky? No, I don’t think so. I will admit I’m not shopping at the peak of season hysteria—I value my sanity. And I rarely shop at places that have a lot of pushing, shoving, knock-down fights (that’s on Thanksgiving evening, I’m told).

Here’s what I think: I think somebody got a thank-you campaign going; something like—“See how many times in a day you can thank someone out loud.”
Or it could be my gray hair. I’m at that uncertain age—I can hear them thinking, Is she in her 70s? 80s? Can she hear all right? Why is she smiling?

Whatever. I like knowing other people still remember to say thanks and smile.
And I’m all for it being catching!

 P.S.--In case you think I'm a paragon or campaigning for sainthood, I have to correct that. Tortoise-like drivers still send my BP up several points. Mistakes on my online orders get me growling. And the little loaves of bread I baked a few days ago--and burned--made me scream. Well, didn't make me, but I screamed anyway. I try to keep those times to a minimum, make allowances, give others the benefit of the doubt, yada yada  . . . but I firmly admit to being human. (Sorry if that bursts your bubble.)

Have a lovely day anyway!

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Looking back, at this time of my life—some people would say that’s all I do, but please don’t pick up that ball and run with it, okay?
As I was saying, looking back, I believe I’ve always needed something to look forward to. I’m willing to stick my neck out and say everybody has that same need. It’s one of those primal things.
As a little kid, I looked forward to the day I could officially go to school and learn things. Reading a book! Writing on a tablet! Adding up numbers! My very soul tingled with the anticipation.

Once in school, there was more to look forward to: holidays meant we made stuff in art class to decorate our classroom or to take home as a gift to our parents. And the biggest anticipation of all—going to the next grade. It wasn’t so much the new teacher, the new room, or being bigger, it was what all that stood for: growing up! Heady stuff.
That was the macro. The day-to-day stuff was the micro—getting assignments done, reading the book before it was due at the library, going to club meetings or play practice after school. We were totally caught up in the microcosm of school and its self-contained world.
Actually, we were as close to living in the Now—that state of being present in the moment that everybody talks about these days—as we were likely to be ever again. We had the Past—last year’s class; we had the Future—next year’s studies. But what really mattered at any one time was Right Now.
As I grew older, I found other anticipations: college (more school); marriage and children; working after the kids were in school all day; the empty nest. Again, these are all Big Things—the macrocosm of Life.
These days I look forward to all sorts of things . . . the clunk of the mailbox that tells me the letter carrier brought me something (never mind that it’s probably an ad from the cable company or an insurance company trying to sell me health coverage) . . . each day’s special event (Monday, sewing at Jane’s house; Tuesday, yoga; Wednesday, shopping; etc.) . . . an early morning walk at the Y (and the days I don’t walk, I look forward to sleeping a half-hour later) . . . a new book by a favorite author . . . email from one of my kids . . . the last stitch in a quilt that signals “it’s done!” . . . .
The list threatens to be endless.
I try to keep time for quietude—not every minute must be crammed with activity, but not every moment needs to be meditative. A good balance of the two keeps me occupied and allows time for being thankful.
The greatest benefit of anticipation? It keeps despair at bay. If I can look forward to an event, then I can deal with a sadness in the present. So long as I have hope, I don’t drown in emotions that can swamp me.
The best thing about the Past is that it’s gone. Over and done with. Sure, there may be fall-out from happenings in days gone by. But we can’t live there and still be useful in the Now.
What do you look forward to today? Make a little list. But be prepared—it might become a gigantic list.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


If I were a betting woman, I’d bet hardly any of the regular readers of Thursday’s Child will catch up with us this holiday morning. Many of you will be basting the turkey, having put it in the oven at 4:00 AM (I’ve been told there is such a time of day). Others will be hustling everyone around for a trip to Grandma’s house (or Aunt Millie’s or Cousin Jim’s or good friends who also live far from family) for the traditional turkey/ham/standing rib roast and all the trimmings. Some will be sleeping in, waiting for Somebody Else to make a pot of coffee that will rouse the most persistent snoozer.
Me, I’m taking it easy. Our family dinner is tomorrow at my Ohio daughter’s house. I made and delivered a 2-lb. loaf of gluten-free bread earlier this week for my daughter to use in her special stuffing, and today I’ll clean veggies and make a good low-cal dip to take with me. (Recipe at the end of this post.)

Memories of childhood Thanksgiving holidays bring pictures of long car trips starting Wednesday night, driving/riding through the dark and often snow, to arrive on Thursday morning. We often stayed at my step-grandmother’s house a couple of nights before loading up and driving back to where we were living (either southern Missouri or Wichita, KS in those days). Whichever locale, it was a lo-o-o-ong trip for a kid.
I never recall any of those meals—did we have turkey? Ham? Chicken?

We might have—I’m sure we did—go to Grandma and Grandpa Jenkins’ house. By the time I was 11 or 12 they were in their early 70s and probably didn’t have the big meal at their house. (Not surprising—they had 10 children, with spouses, 26 grandchildren—or was it 27?—and by then a handful of great-grandchildren. Too many for a small house!)

After I married, I became a Palmer—that family was more conventional as to holidays than my dad and stepmother were. The tradition was: get together, make a big meal, eat and enjoy each other’s company. I recall another long, slow drive from central Illinois to rural Iowa, during snow and possibly ice—memory fails here, which is just as well.
That was to set the pattern for years—no matter the weather, we went “home” for Thanksgiving and Christmas; for my husband and me it was back to central Illinois. By the time we had three children, my in-laws came to visit us in Indiana.

As the children grew up, I continued the tradition of holiday dinners—cooking and baking, inviting others to join us, going to Thanksgiving Eve church services. Lots of work, but it made for fond memories.
In our family, we’ve passed the torch—my house is no longer large enough to hold all of us for holiday meals. The noise level of 22 people—if they all get here—threatens to raise the roof (literally). So the next generation has grabbed the torch and uses it to roast a turkey. Besides, my daughter lives in the country where there’s ample room for kids to play safely outside, weather permitting, where the noise level is less noticeable to aging ears.

Tomorrow at our gathering I’ll get to visit with a few of my grandsons and their families. We’ll eat and eat and eat—too many good things to pass them up—and later we’ll take a walk around outside to view the changes my daughter and son-in-law have made to their property in the past year. Some of our group will congregate in my son-in-law’s taxidermy shop, which will be open now that hunters are out doing their thing.
If we had to pass up the pie offerings earlier, due to insufficient room to sample all of them (pumpkin, apple,  and butterscotch are regular features), now’s the time to head back inside, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and have “just a little slice” of whatever’s being cut. It’s the rare person who can pass up all three offerings.

By the time a few people are making going-home noises, we will be packing up leftovers so everybody can have a little bit of Thanksgiving dinner another day. I drive about an hour back to my Indiana home, and pat my well-filled tummy. Another cup of tea is about all I’ll need after our lovely feast. I’ll spend the evening savoring the family connections, remembering how much the youngest children have grown in a year since I last saw them, and being thankful once again that I am a part of such a good family.
New additions to the Fond Memory Department.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I wish you a peaceful time of reflection—a time to count your blessings—a time to list all the ways you are thankful.

May you, and I, pass on these blessings.

[If you’re not a sour cream fan, here’s an easy substitute.]
2/3 c. cottage cheese
2/3 c. plain yogurt (Greek yogurt works well)
2/3 c. mayonnaise

In a blender, mix the cottage cheese and yogurt. Pour out into a bowl, add the mayonnaise, and whisk together till smooth. Stir in dip mix of your choice (I use Hidden Valley).
Makes about 2 cups.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Day 20 of 30 Days of Gratitude:
I'm grateful for creative folks who generously share their joy in creation, their enthusiasm, their vision, themselves.

We've been visited by Young Man Winter (he hasn't been around long enough to be Old Man Winter) who lives up to his name: youthful, in-your-face, a real go-getter, eager to show his stuff. Bah!

I'm handicapped here at Thursday's Child--I try to celebrate whatever comes down the pike. Not an easy job if you're housebound by snow/ice/wind/dropping temps (all of the above some days).

So I'm not ready to celebrate Winter, because--duh--Winter isn't due for another month. I'll be glad to wait, thank you.

While I'm hibernating in my cave--fully equipped with WiFi, videos/books/yarn/fabric/food, and coffee/tea/hot chocolate--I've taken to surfing the 'Web for new ideas. Wow!

My big find is The Missouri Star Quilt Company, located in Hamilton, Missouri--up in the northwest corner, population between 1,700 and 1,800, most of whom work for the Missouri Star Quilt Company!

You can read all the info about the company if you search on the name and look for a link to an About Us section (probably at the bottom of the home page).

A selection of precuts from my stash:
L to R: charm squares, strips, fat quarters.

I've fallen in love with the tutorials! Every time I check the website there seems to be another one. They're all free. They're all excellent. Most, but not all, use precuts of fabric (fat quarters, strips, charm squares, 10" squares, and other types). If you're looking for a lovely project and you're in a time crunch, this is your store.

Best of all is Jenny Doan, the star of the company, who makes most of the videos. I love her enthusiasm, her joy in creating something from all those fabric choices, and her down-to-earth personality. Jenny is not a perfectionist--I tend to be too much so, and I find her free spirit approach to a creative endeavor liberating. What she brings to the sometimes-daunting process of quilting is a talent for making it efficient and do-able by beginners, as well as appealing to busy advanced quilters. Her quilts are always beautiful; her approach is get-it-done, on-to-the-next! My kind of teacher. And a great "face" for The Missouri Star Quilt Company.

While I was temporarily not poking my nose out of my cave, I made voluminous notes from her videos for such patterns as:
   Exploding Block Quilt - Bordered Square - Square in a Square
   Double Slice Layer Cake - Windowpane Disappearing Nine Patch
   Disappearing Four Patch - Jelly Roll Race I and II

Then there are sewing projects requiring little or no quilting: Totes, a Minky Scarf, Christmas Stocking, Fabric Ornaments, Christmas Table Runner, Christmas Table Topper (doubles as a mini tree skirt), Chicken Pincushions (great to see the thing being made--I never could get my head around it just by reading instructions). These sound like great gifts--fast, beautiful, easy.

If that's not enough for you, there are tutorials on binding your quilt, free-motion quilting, sashing; plus tips and techniques scattered through the various sessions. Or if you're free-motion challenged (I seem to be), the quilting of these projects, including the big quilts, can be done on the home machine. Really!

I'm now looking at my super-sized stash with new eyes--strip sets? charm squares? 10-inch squares? fat quarter packs? Oh, yes, pick one of these and one of those, use Jenny's tutorial, and voila, a quilt is born!

Creativity shows up everywhere . . . be on the lookout for that new approach, fresh viewpoint. People like that are inspiring.

Let's celebrate creativity, wherever it shows up.

Takes some cutting, but worth it.
This is a 45x57 lap quilt,
Easy Does It, by Darlene Zimmerman.
(Made from fat quarters.)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

When I left for the Y this morning at stupid o'clock--still dark, still cold, me still half-asleep--I was jarred awake by snow! On the mulch around my big maple out front. On the vehicles that live along our street and have no garage to call their home. Wow! Snow.

The receptionist at the Y said it for all of us: "It's not even the 15th of November yet!"

As an aside: I may be at fault here--yesterday I couldn't stand it any longer so I played the White Christmas DVD . . . "snow, snow, snow, snow, SNOW!" Anyway, thought I better confess.
When I got home from the Y, my thoughts turned immediately to soup.

Now, I don't have soup for breakfast, unless you count soupy oatmeal which I have once or twice a year. But I remembered the Butternut Squash Soup I made recently, and that's what we're having today--you, the reader, and I.

It's a slow cooker recipe, but doesn't take all day, even on low. This recipe came to me by chance. I was waiting at the doctor's office for my appointment . . . the receptionist said the doctor was delivering a baby and would be along shortly. Uh-huh, I remember being the one who delivered babies myself and there was no "shortly" about it. But it wasn't her own baby, so maybe the mom would take pity on us patients waiting (patiently, of course) for the doctor to return to her office.

While I waited I browsed magazines. I don't take many periodicals nowadays--I can read what I want to at the library, the doctors' offices I visit, and the style salon I go to every three weeks.

That day's offerings included a current Woman's Day.

So here 'tis. I've tinkered with it, as I always do, so you're getting my version.

Here's what I started with

Serves 4-6 (from Woman's Day, October, 2014)

Use a 5-6 quart slow cooker.

Whisk together and put in the cooker:

1 tsp. coriander (or curry powder or savory)
1 tsp. ground ginger (or grated if you can get it in a jar)
Salt & Pepper

1 small onion (or shallot), finely chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
2 cloves garlic, chopped (or minced out of a jar)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Cook until squash is tender, approximately:
     HIGH - 3 hours
     LOW  - 5 hours

Drain and rinse contents of 15-oz. can of cannellini beans.
Mash half of the beans and add to the soup. Stir, then add the rest of the unmashed beans.

If you have enough squash, you may also add a 15-oz. can of chickpeas (rinsed).

One tip: butternut squash is a very firm creature. The next time I make it I plan to cut off the neck and cut it into thick slices, clean the seeds out of the bowl of the squash, and microwave the whole mess for 3 or 4 minutes. Then peel. My hands haven't quite recovered from peeling the raw squash.

The recipe called for this to be served with a couscous garnish (mixed with apricots, pistachios, scallions, and parsley). Since I don't eat couscous, I skipped the garnish and ate my soup with buttered multigrain gluten-free toast.

Let me tell you--this is a hearty soup. A small bowl or cup of this soup is filling and just right for these cold days.
Thick enough to be called a stew. Yum!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

If you're a regular on Facebook, you know that November is the month for "30 Days of Gratitude."

Anyone who wants to participate signs on and lists something for Day 1, Day 2, and so on.

I usually forget to do something like that every day. My daily must-dos are walking, pills, and rest in the afternoon.

So I'm taking today's blog as a time to run through a week of Gratitudes.

Thursday - I'm grateful for the Internet - email - blogs. So much information is available, and quickly, right in my own home. I can keep up with friends and family easily. And I can get my entertainment on other people's blogs. I might learn something, too!

Friday - I'm grateful for health care workers and for those who work in alternative healing, such as acupuncture, Reiki, and other types of energy work.

Saturday - I'm grateful for the abundance and availability of items when I go shopping. My new refrigerator makes it easy for me to stock up for a week, instead of buying only what I can use in a day or two.

Sunday - I'm grateful for my church where this Sunday we will honor all who have served in the armed forces. My gratitude for all veterans and those currently serving is boundless.

Monday - I'm grateful for friends who want to sew and knit with me. We enjoy each other's company, share each other's burdens, and make useful items for families in need.

Tuesday - I'm grateful for teachers and instructors who work at the senior center; their dedication to good health practices helps many who otherwise might not have the opportunity to reap the benefits of yoga and tai chi.

Wednesday - I'm grateful for strength and stamina to do my own yard work; our leaf crop this year is especially abundant.

If you can't do the 30 days of gratitude on Facebook, make yourself a list of seven days. Write down what you will do each day. Then write down why you are grateful for that day's activity.

Have a good week! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Great fun to welcome Liz Flaherty, an Indiana native, who is going to talk about all aspects of writing romances.
You readers can get insights into the decisions a writer makes as she develops her characters and puts them through their paces.

And if you want a quick sneak peek at the story first, scroll to the bottom and read the blurb about Back to McGuffey’s. Gorgeous cover!
Great to have you visit Thursday's Child, Liz!
        Hey, Judith, thanks for having me!

Here we go . . . how much characterization is given when a character approaches you?

Quite a bit of it is there. The story develops the rest, just like life makes us into who we are. Wow, was that profound or what? J

How much do you have to eke out of them?

Not much, really, although it’s fun when one of them chooses to retain a little mystery.

Does plot come with?

Plot comes, as I’ve said before, word by excruciating word. I couldn’t plot my way out of a paper bag.

Are your characters willing to reveal the “story” or plot?

No, they pretty much sit there and file their nails while I sweat bullets. From plotting comes the saying “…just open a vein…” What that doesn’t tell you is that plotting veins roll away from the needle, so you have to try and try and try.

Over the years your work has shown your style of writing—it has been polished, but never seems forced. How is your writing style—or voice—achieved?

If I have a particular gift, that is it. My voice is what it is. I don’t think about it or work on it. (I hesitated to use the word “gift.” I am not by any means a gifted writer, but I consider my voice in that term because it was just there—I didn’t have to earn it or hone it.)

Home to Singing Trees, a historical romance, has a different voice. Do you have a mindset for different books?

In a way. Working on Home to Singing Trees was very satisfying because the research was so much fun. Although contemporary requires research, for me it’s nothing like historical. Writing historical was much more labor-intensive because I couldn’t write even the shortest dialogue without conscious thought concerning how it would sound. You know, would she actually have said that in 1875? Figuring out what they wore, how long it would take to drive a wagon 17 miles, when the Howe Sewing Machine factory in Peru, Indiana closed—these things all took time I wasn’t used to spending. It gave me a new admiration for historical authors and further convinced me I probably wasn’t meant to be one, no matter how much I loved writing that book!

You’ve traveled around for your locales: Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vermont.

While it’s true I’ve used places I’ve traveled to, I never went anywhere for the actual purpose of using it. We have or have had family in all my locations. One set of our kids now live in North Carolina. That will probably come next. J

Why have you chosen the ones you’ve used?

They’re rural and they’re beautiful—that’s pretty much all I require from settings. And the beauty differs from place to place, which makes it all the better.

Why romance?

Empowerment of women, happy endings, variety.

What do you read?

Women’s fiction, mostly, or romance when I can find ones written in a voice I love to read (Kristan Higgins, Mary Balogh, Nan Reinhardt—the list goes on) or written with more mature protagonists. I can’t identify with 20-somethings anymore. That’s no reflection on other writers, just how my own tastes have changed.

What writer or writers do you consider mentors, or have influenced your own development as a writer?

Well, you have, Judith! J And Muriel Jensen, Kathleen Gilles Seidel, Cheryl Reavis. Their voices are warm and rich and gift to the soul. I hope I never intentionally try to sound like them, but I also hope I learn from them.

How do you continue to grow as a writer?

I belong to Indiana RWA and go to their retreat, which is wonderful! My friend Nan and I went to Chicago’s Spring Fling this year—also wonderful. And the internet allows us to be closer to peer friends even when we actually aren’t. That’s a godsend to me.

What advice would/do you give to aspiring writers? What advice helped you most?

Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. That’s the piece Muriel Jensen gave me that helped me immeasurably. My own addition to that is, If you’re not having fun, go ahead and quit. There is no shame in quitting—the shame is in continuing without joy.

What is the most important aspect of writing for you? Why?

The joy of it. If it wasn’t fun, if I wasn’t still eager to grope my way into a dark office every morning, I would stop. To use a cliché—which I do all the time; they became clichés in the first place because they were good—life’s too short to not have a good time.

Where do we go to find your books?

Any on-line retailer. Here—I’ll even give you a link or two.

Or, if you’re looking for print copies of my Harlequin or Carina books:

Back to McGuffey’s
ISBN: 978-0-373-36696-5

The one that got away
Could Kate Rafael’s day get any worse? First she lost her job, then her house burned down and now her ex is back in town. Apparently, Ben McGuffey's taking a break from being a big-city doctor to help at his family’s tavern and reassess the choices he's made for his career.

Ben ends up giving Kate a hand...then giving her kisses...and finally, a second chance. But when a local teenager shows them both a glimpse of what it means to be a family, Ben wonders if having kids in small-town Vermont would clash with his ambitions. Or can he truly come home again…to Kate?


Thursday, October 23, 2014

(The Year in Review)

I’ve loved Judy Collins’ songs ever since I first heard them and sang along in the ‘70s. I loved the ones she wrote and the ones she sang written by other people. Many of her songs spoke to me, such as “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” (Cue the CD.)

October in NE Indiana
That song is especially appropriate today because just one year ago—yup, one whole year—Thursday’s Child set out to explore the universe. I say universe—you understand, I hope, that it’s the universe I inhabit, not the great big wild wonderful universe where absolutely anything can happen. And probably does!

In October 2013, we began our odyssey of celebration: the everyday, the holiday; ordinary, extraordinary; whatever came across my mind and heart that might be worthy of note. Or not.

First we celebrated the arrival of Autumn (a little late, but what the hey, we celebrated). And in a few days it was time for us to consider November and what it brings. Thanksgiving celebrations, good foods, how to eat gluten-free, if you need to.
Makes me cold to look at it!
December, for me, was a magical time. Two of my children, who live far from Northeastern Indiana, traveled to be with the rest of the family for Christmas at my Ohio daughter’s home. All four children, most of the grandchildren, and most of the greatgrandchildren were there. A full house! We so rarely get together that it was a special blessed time for me.

January, however, became one great sheet of ice and snow, mostly snow to the depth of feet, not inches. My oldest daughter, who had traveled from Arizona, was snowed in and got to stay three days later than planned. She has said on occasion that she misses the seasons of the Midwest. We certainly had plenty of Winter for her visit!
From that point on, we northerners struggled to keep warm, get out of our houses when we had to for supplies and fuel, and otherwise fight off cabin fever. I will say—though this is not a cure-all for everyone—having a dog who needs to go out several times a day will solve the indoor-blues. Thirty seconds outside is precious when the temp is hovering at -19 degrees.

Another of my ways to pass indoor time was to cook. Soups became standard fare—the slow cooker got a workout at least once a week. When I couldn’t get out for long periods I knitted, sewed a little, read a lot (I own hundreds of books but by the end of winter I was tired of all of them). I wrote letters to my writing buddy who deserted the north for three months in Florida. From her warmer clime she claimed to be missing the Winter. Uh-huh.
Naturally, when Spring finally showed up, we all ran outside looking for green stuff. Mostly we saw leafless shrubs and eventually a few brave perennials pushing up through the barely thawed earth. Once the ground thawed, somewhere in July—no, I guess it was early May—we saw grass that appeared to be what we remembered from years gone by.

But if you wait long enough, and compose yourself in quietude, the longed-for result will be Spring as we wish it to be. Flowers bloomed, shrubs bloomed, trees bloomed—it was a miracle any of those plants had survived the winter. And when they did—wow! They had gathered renewed energy for blooming.
Summer, as I’ve said ‘way too often, is my least favorite season. However, this past Summer had some good points. It wasn’t too rainy, or too humid, or too hot, or too mosquito-y. I would almost have said I enjoyed Summer. But my sweet dog, Joy, was failing fast. She could no longer go on walks beyond a block and back, and those with several stops. As the days and weeks went by, she ate less and less, until finally it was time. The veterinarian said she had probably had a stroke. She was 17 years, 5 months old. Her passing made a hole in my life and my heart.

And before you ask, no, I did not yet get another dog. Next year, maybe, after I’ve made some long-distance trips to visit family and friends; in warm weather, not going into another cold season that may be who-knows-how-bad; and it will have to be a dog who wants me, too. We’ll know each other when we meet.
But, despite losses, we all keep on keeping on, whatever the circumstances. I played the organ at my church all through the past Summer. When the choir began again in September, the other organist and I adopted a plan to play alternate Sundays while a committee continues its search for a full-time organist. That arrangement is working well, giving both of us time off. And I get a chance to work with a choir again for short periods. I still make quilts and knit and write/revise stories, have lunch with friends.
As I write this, the temp is 32 degrees and we have thick fog. Yesterday the temp was 50-something and sunny. Birds clamored for seeds at my three feeders outside the window where I write. All over town people have begun raking leaves, putting away outdoor furniture, cleaning out flower beds. The usual October chores.

Thursday’s Child is now one year old, and there is every indication we will continue writing about what drifts across our radar. We never know what that will be.
Join us when you can. Always something going on with Thursday’s Child.
Sneak Peek: Next week, come by for an interview with Liz Flaherty who is celebrating the publication of her 9th book, Back to McGuffey’s!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Take your ordinary day—get up, do the routine you always do, drink your beverage of choice and grab something to eat.
Get ready for your day—work, shopping, herding kids, volunteering.

Now—turn that ordinary day into something extraordinary. I just did.

Roadside Beauty in Indiana

The reason Thursday’s Child is late today is that I gave myself time off from exercise class, knitting, housework, yard work (leaves are falling fast and furious). Instead of these joys, I drove 40 miles to meet a good friend for lunch at a pub called The Village Inn, in Roanoke, Indiana (great place to eat if you’re in the neighborhood).
Liz Flaherty and I love to get together for lunch and two hours of world-problem-solving, along with a heart-to-heart about a subject dear to us, writing. Used to be three or four times a year. Now we’re lucky if we make it once a year. Why? Because we’re both retired. Everybody knows there’s less time available once one retires. It is well known, as Precious Ramotswe would say (the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency proprietor).

There’s absolutely nothing like having a friend with whom you can let your hair down, get an ego massage and a butt-kicking all in the same two hours, and part greater friends than ever. We part sadly, too, because who knows when we’ll meet again?
That was my extraordinary day. Hope yours was, too.

My drive looked like this.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


If I have a favorite month it would have to be October—for her color, her cooler temperatures, her sunny days—October could have been designed especially for me. And on clear days when the sky is a blue found at no other time of the year, I recall a portion of a poem by Helen Hunt Jackson, of Amherst, Massachusetts, writing in the 19th Century:
   O suns and skies and clouds of June,
   And flowers of June together,
   Ye cannot rival for one hour
   October's bright blue weather;

Autumn’s passing leads to Winter, and I can hear already the moans, groans, and grumbles of those who “hate winter”; can’t stand to live up north all those long, dark, cold months; or who proclaim it to be the ugliest time of the year.

Really? I’ll agree in part—the cold gets to me and I miss the longer hours of daylight. But ugly? I love the pen-and-ink-drawing quality of a winter landscape. Shadows harbor blue tones. Trees reveal their structure. Evergreens stand out against the subtle whites. Winter always makes me think of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” Robert Frost’s famous poem; here it is in its entirety:
Whose woods these are I think I know.  
His house is in the village though;  
He will not see me stopping here  
To watch his woods fill up with snow.  

My little horse must think it queer  
To stop without a farmhouse near  
Between the woods and frozen lake  
The darkest evening of the year.  

He gives his harness bells a shake  
To ask if there is some mistake.  
The only other sound’s the sweep  
Of easy wind and downy flake.  

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,  
But I have promises to keep,  
And miles to go before I sleep,  
And miles to go before I sleep.

I will admit, I’m ready for Spring when everybody else is. Of course I’m thinking of soft breezes, soft sunshine, soft green grass and plants. In reality, Spring in Northeast Indiana brings snow, fog, cloudy days, rain, thawing, mud, and freezing mud. But by April—ah, April, T. S. Eliot’s “cruelest month.”
From The Waste Land, Part I-Burial of the Dead:

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

April became the cruelest month for me when my mother died during my sophomore year in high school. Even today, I am vaguely unhappy during April, no matter how many flowers bloom, how gentle the breezes. But the time passes, and May comes with more and more flowers and trees in bloom and bushes putting forth fragrant perfume. And I am solaced.

From John Keats’ poem, “On the Grasshopper and the Cricket”
The poetry of earth is never dead:
   When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
   And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;

That is the Grasshopper’s--he takes the lead
    In summer luxury,--he has never done
    With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.

Summer was always the season when time, for me, ceased to pass. Summer went on forever. Summer never seemed to end. For me that was punishment; I longed for cooler weather, school books, and teachers. (Being an only child meant I had no one to play with. But I managed—I lectured my dolls and made up stories.)
Now that I’m an adult, I distract myself from summer’s too-long visit with enjoyment of my neighbor’s roses, or the lovely shade of the trees surrounding my house.

Seasons have come to mean more to me than merely changes in the landscape and activities to suit the time, temperature, and condition of the sky.
SPRING is a time of new beginnings; a time to sow, or prepare, or plan.
SUMMER is a time of growth, of tending what has been sown, of appreciation for what is growing.
AUTUMN brings harvest, and a time to take one’s ease after the previous work of Spring and Summer.
WINTER allows us rest, when much of life lies dormant, waiting for a new Springtime.
We can experience all the seasons of life—sometimes in one day, or during one project; in our homes, at work, at school; within ourselves, moment to moment.
If you live in other climates and don’t experience the change of seasons as dramatically as we do in Northeastern Indiana, look for signs of your own seasons—they may be more subtle, in color, shape, length—but you’ll find them. Look within. You’ll find them there as well.